National Poetry Day: Heroes and Heroines
You're simply the best,
Better than all the rest,
Better than anyone,
Anyone I've ever met!
I'm stuck on your heart,
I hang on every word you say
Tear us apart, baby
I would rather be dead
OK, I've chosen lyrics rather than a conventional poem for National Poetry Day, but they're relevant for the heroes and heroines story I'm going to tell you about. I'm showing you a picture from the Special Olympics opening ceremony in Dublin in 2003 and that's world hero Nelson Mandela, in the white top, officially opening the proceedings just after being led onto the stage by Bono from U2. Imagine how I felt to be there experiencing that for real!
I was one of 30,000 volunteers helping 7,000 athletes with special needs from around the world to realise their full potential and focus on the things they could do for once. The Irish nation took every one of them to their hearts and I had the privilege of looking after Bahrain's ladies basketball team. It was 10 days of competition in various venues, with the finals day being held in the Irish National Basketball Centre. Everyone was considered a hero and as each team was called forward for their awards ceremony, we volunteers linked arms around the basketball court and sang and danced our hearts out as the strains of Tina Turner's Simply the Best, the above words in particular, were belted out over the loud speakers.
The company I worked for at the time sponsored me and I was also invited to write a daily diary for publication on their intranet (i.e. private internet): it was my first experience of something close to blogging I suppose. You can read my diary in full and see further pictures if you visit here.
Flighty is compiling the blogger's response to National Poetry Day today, so you'll find many more Heroes and Heroines there. And here's my piece from last year's National Poetry Day - one of my notoriously bad poems, but also with a discussion of a far better one ;)
Update: I've just heard on the news that T.S. Eliot's been voted the nation's favourite poet and I have to agree. We studied The Wasteland in the sixth form (those of us studying science still had to continue with English Literature), but my first encounter with him was much earlier. It's a poem I chose to read out loud in my second year at secondary school, which I still love reading today because it's such an evocative piece.
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.