Sarah’s Introduction and Poem 1 – Fifty Things to Say

So this is my plan – It’s 50 days to National Poetry Day and the theme this year is ‘Change’.

I’m fascinated by the question – what do poems change?

My poems changed me as I wrote them and sometimes I hear that they’ve alchemised something in someone else.

So, in order to celebrate launching my audio book of ‘50 Poems for my 50th – a beginner’s guide to opening the world with words’, I thought I might spend the next 50 days reading one poem a day (or a couple of poems every couple of days) to someone I meet and just seeing what they had to say!

Today was Day One and I found myself in the gorgeously eccentric Haminados Cafe in Notting Hill (Filled with pictures of Rabbis and Beatles Memorabilia – not to forget the delightful host Joseph, who is always happy to tell you that ‘It’s just come out of the oven!’) meeting up with Theodora Songhai, a wonderful actress, writer and puppeteer, who is preparing to devise a puppetry piece in the Temperate House of Kew Gardens.

She claims that she doesn’t really get on with poetry, but was all up for hearing the introduction to 50 poems and also the poem for Day 1.

You might like to have a listen first, here on Soundcloud


I like this bit –
Page 1 “So there it is in black and white, Poetry exists for the purposes of festivity, affirmation and the revelation of paradise. And all of this springs from contemplation”

I love that because I’d never thought about the fact that inspiration and all the things that are good and that art invokes in us, can come from a place not just of silence but of contemplation – sourced in a place from beyond ourselves. That’s what I love about that.

It’s otherworldly.

And the other part that struck me was when you talk about enchantment and how poetry can place you inside a song. For some reason that reminded me of The Never Ending Story… particularly I remember the scary wolf who terrified me as child. In fact I’m still scared now – black hair and green eyes – and when it’s in the cave and opens its eyes the only thing you can see are its eyes. At any rate what I remember is how he said “I am the servant of the Nothing”.
The Nothing is about the eradication of imagination and innocence.

…the destruction of the belief that good things can happen. But you’re saying that the enchantment that poetry can create is actually a willingness to be open to imagination and beauty and delight. Enchantment is the antithesis of the nothing… it’s a tool we have to fight the Nothing. And we do have to fight. You’ve reminded me that it really does require effort to eradicate the encroachment of the Nothing.

And that’s what a poem can do.

Thank you Theodora!

So now the first poem in the collection on day one is ‘I put an orchid in my room’

When you read it you just said – Wow, I want an orchid in my room.

But why?

Because I want to experience loveliness as power, power to bless and chase away disorder and chaos. I love that. Something just being itself in its fullness; that is the power. That surety of being happy in itself dispels the chaos. It’s encouraging me that when I enter the place of being free to be myself, then I will also have the power to dispel all that tastes of cynicism… of the nothing. Yes!!!

Theodora Songhai blogs at Village Offspring.

Thank you Theodora for joining the first day of the Pilgrimmage to National Poetry Day with 50 Poems for my 50th – A Beginner’s Guide to Opening the World with Words. It was a joy!


  1. Jo thank you, that would be just marvellous. If we could feature the blog during the run up to National Poetry Day and feature the poems as they go live. There'll probably be about 30 rather than 50 covered before the actual day as it does take a while to create the posts and also it might be nice to continue a bit after National Poetry Day. Also it would be great to advertise the St Michael's Arts Festival. They are doing great work and have a fantastic line up. Should I write something about Changing the conversation through poetry .. and then it might expand…Maybe as I'm already writing the pieces I could put the post itself in the poetry section and be Bard in Residence for a season and see how it goes? They say the syndicating content is the only way to get the work out there and ICN would be a wonderful platform and I've heard that people are enjoying the posts and hearing the poems.

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