“Parnassus is the mythical home of Orpheus, and we’re trying to recreate those foothills here in the Southbank. The idea is to convene a global coming together of poetry and poets using the Olympics as a convenient device for that. There’s all kind of reasons it seems to fit, including the whole idea of Olympic values – this will be a non-competitive version of that. It is a celebration of poetry as the oldest form of writing. London is renowned for being an international city. There are people of almost every nationality living in this city”.
So said Poetry Parnassus curator Simon Armitage when I interviewed him last year and how rapidly the year has sped by for Poetry Parnassus is now just two days away and will see history made at the largest international gathering of poets the world has seen.
There is also an interesting interview with Simon Armitage in today’s Observer in which he describes the international diversity of poetry:
“The only constant is language, but whether and how it is written, spoken or sung changes enormously”.
There is indeed an incredible diversity of events on offer at Poetry Parnassus. On Tuesday there will be a “Rain of Poems”, 100,000 poems by over 300 contemporary poets from 204 countries falling from a helicopter over Jubilee Garden at sun set. Throughout will be the Poetry Bench, the Poetry Takeaway, and Poems on the Underground (all free) – it certainly looks to be a treasure trove of poetic delights from around the world.
’It is a happy thing that there is no royal road to poetry. The world should know by this time that one cannot reach Parnassus except by flying.’ - Gerald Manley Hopkins.
Although we might not have wings, this gathering of poets is sure to be an uplifting experience.