Page last updated at 09:16 GMT, Monday, 1 February 2010

Poets hold 'literary Live Aid' event

Carol Ann Duffy
Duffy is the first female poet laurate

Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy has joined 21 other leading poets in a literary Live Aid-style event for victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Poetry Live for Haiti aimed to raise £20,000 for the Disasters Emergency Committee's Haiti Earthquake Appeal on Saturday.

Duffy told the BBC she organised the event after watching the tragedy in Haiti unfold on television.

Andrew Motion, Roger McGough, and Gillian Clarke also took part.

Duffy, who was made poet laureate last year, told the BBC: "Like everyone else, I was very deeply affected by reports from Haiti about the earthquake and its aftermath, and I just thought to myself 'this is going to take years to put right'. These people will need support for a long, long time to come.

"It didn't seem enough to do the usual thing and get my credit card out, and I wondered if we could do something bigger than that, and being a poet, a poetry reading was the only thing I could think of."

Duffy said all the poets who were able to take part immediately agreed, and she was able to organise the London event without delay.

Christopher Reid, who won the Costa Book of the Year Award earlier this week with his collection of poems A Scattering, also took part, as did Jo Shapcott, John Agard and Dannie Abse, among others.

Public grief

Duffy added that Gillian Clark and Elaine Feinstein had both written "strong" poems about the disaster, which they read at the event.

"We turn to poetry at intense moments in our lives," Duffy added.

"When we lose people, or are bereaved, we look for a piece of music or poem to read at the funeral, or when we fall in love we turn to poetry, or when children are born.

"And I think that can happen at moments of public grief too, as well as personal. It is so close to prayer, it is the most intense use of language that there is.

"It is the perfect art form for public or private grief."

Poetry Live for Haiti was held at Methodist Central Hall, in Westminster.



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