RIP My Ninety-One Year Old Pin Up

Just a few brief words from me tonight.

Celia and I went to the Forward Prize Poetry event at the Southbank. Dannie Abse, who I fell for like a ton of bricks at the start of the year at the TS Eliot Prize event, was one of the judges.

Dannie died on Sunday.

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Poetry. It gets under your skin. Says the things you don’t know you could say; didn’t know how to say. Let’s the feeling flesh out the words as they strip you to your bones.

Poetry. Its riches rediscovered because of Mother’s dementia; the way we found to communicate still when conversation was impossible. The way I could tell her over and over I loved her and she understood. Poetry was where she still had a place in this world. And now she is out of it, where the world still articulates her.

Mother introduced me to poetry. She wasn’t much of one for novels. Not enough time. She liked her scriptures and the psalms; and language. Radio 4 was her university. I was attending poetry group before Mother declined, but the intensity and the thrill of poetry was rekindled by those last years when I would read to her, poem after poem while she held my hand and listened with a tuned ear. Smiled. Squeezed my fingers to the beat of the words. Her passport to a still place in a world that pushed her off balance into fear and anxiety time and time again.

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