Anthony Wilson is an excellent poet with direct experience of life-threatening illness. In that context, one of his online projects, titled Lifesaving poems, is especially relevant. He explains it as follows:
"I was struck by a remark of Seamus Heaney in an interview he gave
some years ago now. He was musing on how many poems can affect the life
of an individual across that person’s lifetime. Was it ten, he said,
twenty, fifty, a hundred, or more? This is the question that has
underpinned this pet project of mine since I began it in July 2009...
...My criteria were extremely basic. Was the poem one I could recall
having had an immediate experience with from the first moment I read it?
In short, did I feel the poem was one I could do without?"
This is also the key to my own love of poetry - I often feel a collection is a success even if it just contains one single poem that engraves itself on me.
In his series of Lifesaving poems (which begins here), Wilson blogs on how each piece has struck home with him. It's personal, subjective and all the better for that.
Moreover, Wilson's range is extremely wide. He's introduced me to many wonderful poems that I'd never read, often by little-known poets. This is the catalogue of a life's reading. For example, one of my favourite posts is about Suzannah Amoore's An Upstairs Kitchen. It's a terrific chunk of verse by a poet who's disappeared from view, and I'm grateful to Wilson for having shown me the way to it.
Why don't you have a browse for yourself? There really are poems that can save your life.
American poet, editor, and scholar, Dr Don Share, editor of* Poetry*magazine (Chicago) and former head of the Harvard Poetry Series, will be giving a talk a...