From Desert Island discs, 16 October 2015
The castaway was Lemn Sissay, and I am ashamed to confess that I had never heard of him until that day
The transcripted excerpt that follows , his thoughts on poetry and his musical choice is some of the most beautiful prose.
“Poetry can serve a person just by being read out at a funeral or at a wedding or the birth of a child. Actually poetry is around people a lot more than at those times.
Poetry has a bridge between the spirit world and the physical. And that’s why it’s in The Bible, it’s in The Koran. that’s why the Buddhist faith uses it. So when you feel a desperate need for that bridge at a wedding, at a funeral, when you’re leaving work after 25years there’s always someone who says”Right - I’ve got a poem for you John”and it’s a funny poem but it’s kind of poignant.It’s a wonderful thing to see a poem read at a funeral or a wedding. And if you go round gravestones you find poems are the last thing people leave to them.
Why is that?
It’s because poetry is the bridge between the now and then, the past and the future, it’s an incredibly powerful thing and it’s around us all the time.”
Now he is describing his second disc choice - "Says" by Nils Frahm
“This will lift up the sun at sunrise
This will lower it at sunset
This will throw up the stars at midnight.”
The music starts playing while that was said
Then towards the end of the programme he says
“Poetry is the voice at the back of the mind - W H Auden said something very similar. T he idea that what you’re doing was poetry when it is effective is you are articulating with words feelings that people cannot quite grasp and name themselves"
I think I have transcribed it accurately, but I'm not totally sure of that final part.