The most brilliant thing we’ve seen so far this year was A Poet for Every Day of the Year live at the National Theatre in January. In honour of the late Helen McCrory, it featured Damian Lewis, Fay Ripley, Simon Russell Beale, Danny Sapani and Lesley Sharp reading poems aloud from Allie Esiri’s new poetry anthology, A Poet for Every Day of the Year accompanied by live drawing from Chris Riddell. Our particular highlights were Fay Ripley’s rendition of Celia, Celia by Adrian Mitchell that goes like this,
I think of you with nothing on.
And also Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese, read aloud by Helen McCrory and recorded for posterity at one of Allie Esiri’s previous events. Played on a large projector screen, McCrory’s enigmatic voice filled the Lyttleton Theatre with these words,
Mary Oliver, Wild Geese
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting–
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
For all those who missed it (or who want to watch it again) the event will be free to stream on The National Theatre’s YouTube channel from 7pm on 3 March.
We are also delighted to have a competition to give away 5 copies of A Poet for Every Day of the Year by Allie Esiri. Just enter your details below to be in with the chance to win – names will be picked at random on 31 March 2022. Good luck!
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