Poetry in Emotion

June 21st, 2012

Poetry in Emotion

It never hurts to have something to offer in place of All Is Well, Happy the Man and other funeral warhorses – not to mention some of the soppier wedding offerings.

If you have found a poem or a reading that hits the spot, for a funeral a wedding or a naming, please share. Here to get the ball rolling is a poem by Carol Anne Duffy suggested by a funeral client recently:


Some days, although we cannot pray, a prayer
utters itself. So, a woman will lift
her head from the sieve of her hands and stare
at the minims sung by a tree, a sudden gift.

Some nights, although we are faithless, the truth
enters our hearts, that small familiar pain;
then a man will stand stock-still, hearing his youth
in the distant Latin chanting of a train.

Pray for us now. Grade 1 piano scales
console the lodger looking out across
a Midlands town. Then dusk, and someone calls
a child’s name as though they named their loss.

Darkness outside. Inside, the radio’s prayer –
Rockall. Malin. Dogger. Finisterre.

Char March with a copy of The Thousand Natural Shocks

And here’s one from a new collection by BHA celebrant Char March: The Thousand Natural Shocks called We were parents:

You played hide and seek
through our dreams for years
before you arrived.

Then, once we’d tigged you
– that squirm of blur
inside that pulsing screen –

we lay at night trying
not to giggle; straining
to hear your heartbeat.

You made us laugh a lot,
and disagree, and talk till 3am
of names, and whose nose you’d get.

And then you, who had lived
with us such a blink of time,

And we are left, holding
onto nothing but naming books,
and our lurching world.

For you braced your whole
13cm self, and threw our
planet off its axis.

Char has received a great deal of support and encouragement from many of you in her work over the years and writes:

‘I am really proud of The Thousand Natural Shocks (TTNS) – it includes my favourite poems from past years, and a brand new load of freshly-minted poems.  And it’s already had great reviews – Philip Gross (winner of the TS Eliot prize) says this about it:

“Char March delights in the hidden strengths of words, her poems have a healthy toughness at their heart – the ability to surprise the reader with a candour that forces us not just to feel but also to think.”

And the wonderful poet and novelist, Valerie Laws says:

“This collection is wonderful.  So perfectly balanced:  the emotion; the right amount of distance;  the voices so individual;  the language so rich in so many registers;  the images so telling, yet so lightly placed.”’

If you’d like to get hold of a copy, the best way is directly from Char. Email her at charlottemarch@btinternet.com and she’ll advise how.

Here’s another of the 52 poems in the collection:

Another box of nipples arrived today


The hospital computer’s gone mad
– that’s the third box this week.
You stick them on the fridge door,
the phone, the handle of the kettle.
And we laugh.  Then you are sick again.


This evening you sit in your usual chair
in the bloat of chemo, your breath really
bothering you.  And me, if truth be told.
You are darning pullovers neither of us
ever wear – and even Oxfam won’t take. 

What if I could give you a new pair?
That will always pass the pencil test, even
at 90;  with velvet-dark areolae
and pert tips that jut cheekily, but
don’t show through your tennis dress.


You are muttering about camels
and licking the thread for the nth time;
specs half-way down – in your usual chair.
I don’t see hacked-at womanhood,
that you’ve sobbed salt-herring barrels for.


I see you.  Darning your way to normality.