In preparation for the journey to London to the XXX Olympic Summer Games, (OMG TWO-DAY-COUNTDOWWWWWNNNN) I’m going to introduce you to the modern Olympians of the literary world: the poets.
It might be hard to believe that poets have had an influence in today’s Games, since it’s even harder to imagine a frail thing like Emily Dickinson throwing a hammer before millions of spectators (Emily Dickinson was physically very small and disliked greeting guests, often never leaving her room to talk to them). However, I assure you, poets have made their mark on the Olympic field–in ink, of course.
This past April, headlines like “Poets from all Olympic nations sought to line up at London 2012 festival” and “Poetry Parnassus to gather poets from every Olympic nation: organisers of the Cultural Olympiad event are still looking for artists from 23 countries, and need the public to help them.”
(In case you’re wondering, Parnassus is a real limestone mountain in Greece believed to have been home to the Muses, the goddesses of inspiration and protectors of arts and sciences, especially poetry. . . Field trip, anyone?)
This collaboration of poets is called POETRY PARNASSUS, and, according to the official site, it was
“ the largest poetry festival ever staged in the UK, Southbank Centre’s Poetry Parnassus brings together poets and spoken-word artists from all over the world with all competing Olympic nations represented.
This hugely ambitious project, led by Artistic Director Jude Kelly and Artist in Residence Simon Armitage, include[d] readings, workshops and discussions with all the poets who were nominated through public voting.
Never have so many poets and so many languages been together in one place, with each poet contributing a poem in their own language.
The poems from each of the 200-plus countries will then be presented together in the World Record Anthology.
Part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of the World.
‘My hunch is that this will be the biggest poetry event ever – a truly global coming together of poets and a monumental poetic happening worthy of the spirit and history of the Olympics themselves.’
– Simon Armitage, Southbank Centre Artist in Residence”
HOW’S THAT FOR EXCITING?!
A poem chosen from Winning Words website, a site devoted to Olympic poetry, reads:
“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all but one receiveth the prize? So run that ye may obtain.
Excerpt from 1 Corinthians 9:24 by Paul.”
For the Words.