By Arthur Allen
Natural vs Sudden Death
These pieces come from my forthcoming poetry collection, Twenty Twenty: Treatments for Cut Flowers, which charts the loss of my grandmother during a year of losses the world over.
I am a poet currently studying for a PhD in grief and semiotics at the University of Edinburgh and my reaction to the tumult of last year was to record it, to make a kind of poetic document. The way poems work for me (as a record) is not the way poems work for everyone, but it is in moments of emotional crisis that the universal use of poetry becomes suddenly apparent.
When Princess Diana died, Kensington palace was garlanded with wreaths and cards. Then poet laureate Andrew Motion said that most of the flowers and cards had a few lines of verse attached, and even if it wasn’t always very good verse, it was the natural language that people turned to when they couldn’t express their grief any other way.
I think it’s one of the best defences of poetry I’ve ever heard: that those who do not write it find it in times of need.