A few of the Sunday broadsheets featured poetry yesterday, as always happens the weekend before National Poetry Day. Some talked about the launch of a new initiative to encourage children to learn poetry by heart, while one took a more general approach of asking various celebs and literary luminaries what their favourite poem was.
Of course, that set me thinking what an impossible task it is trying to pick out a single poem (I’d managed to reduce my shortlist to 28 by late last night), but it was also interesting that a lot of the responses were in favour of pre-20th century poetry. Tennyson featured more than once, for example. I’m not sure that says anything significant, other than the fact that in the normal course of things, most people aren’t exposed to a huge amount of contemporary poetry.
Against the odds, the one that particularly caught my eye was Jason Donovan’s choice, which was one of the poems of Harry 'Breaker' Morant, which he had learnt as a kid when his dad was playing Morant in the play of the same name. If my memory serves me correctly, Donovan Senior went on to play an Australian general in the film version, where Edward Woodward took the lead. I’ve no idea about Morant’s merits as a ‘bush poet’, but it’s a great film, and it’s high time it was repeated again (it usually turns up on BBC2 at about 12.15 on a Sunday night).