100 Poets Around The World For Love
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100 Poets Around The World For Love
Shamim Shahan (Editor)Poetry
When Shamim Shahan first told me about this venture, 100 poets around the world for love', I didn't appreciate at first just what an extraordinary project it was. I'd enjoyed being involved in the series of online readings linked to the project, of course, but it was only gradually that the scope and importance of Shamim's idea dawned on me. This book brings together the work of not just half a dozen, not even ten, but ONE HUNDRED poets - across borders, across religions, across ethnicity, across the globe - in the name of love.
All these poets have lent their work to the project freely, to be part of this great ensemble of disparate voices. I cannot say for certain, because I do not know many of them personally, but I feel sure that poets write because they care, and think deeply, about humanity, whether just their own, or the whole of human- kind. And maybe, yes, this care comes from a place of love. So this huge act of sharing poetry from around the world is, as Shamim has entitled it, for love, an act of love. Physically, this is a big book. Emotionally, we hope it will be equally huge!
Poetry is so deeply embedded in the human soul that it seems to be part of every culture, and it communicates at a deep level beyond nations and beyond ethnicity. It has the power to make us laugh, to make us cry, to feel outrage, to feel love to feel our deep human connection. It brings us together in a very special way. And we hope this volume can do that at the time when the world seems deeply troubled, a reminder that we have very much in common.
This is a massive project on a practical as well as an intellectual scale, so very early on, we decided not to curate to closely. Instead, we intend it simply to be a platform for the poets to speak for themselves. Many of the poems are translations, translated into English by a whole host of translators, to who we are also deeply grateful for their role in making the poetry more widely accessible. In all cases, the poets have found their own translators, and of course some are better than others but all have shared in making the step of bringing this poetry to a wider readership.
There is an extraordinary range of poetry in this book, an extraordinary range of perspectives and interpretations of our place in the world. Some certainly will fill you with despair. Some will make you angry. Some may just leave you cold. But the sheer variety, the wealth of humanity, the astonishing richness and range of poetic voices is what, for me, makes it hugely exciting and uplifting. We humans have a miraculously infinite, miraculously varied, experi- ences and insights into life. And yet, we are all human. We are part and whole together of this vast organism, all.
This has been a bad time all around the world for many, many people - with the cruelty of war, political oppression and suppression, poverty, homelessness, famine, dreadful weather following on from the pandemic. But if there is anything that can make it easier to bear, to bring light to the darkness, to bring us together in hope and power, it is love, and there are for me, few better ways of expressing love than through poetry. So my heartfelt thanks to Shamim Shahan, T M Ahmed Kaysher and the Gronthee for making this collection possible - and of course to each of the 100 poets and their translators. And to you who care to open this book and read.
As Emily Dickinson wrote to a friend so tellingly, 150 years ago. "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire can ever warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way." So let your head be blown off...
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