Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal

I recently read Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal by Jeanette Winterson. A memoir by an established British novelist. The book was compelling but the following passage particularly stood out. I feel like people, including poets often lose sight of this.

‘I read: This is one moment,/ But I know that another/ Shall pierce you with a sudden painful joy.

I started to cry. (. . .)

I had no one to help me but T.S. Eliot helped me.

So when people say that poetry is a luxury or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange and stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our livesĀ  I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.’

(Pg 39-40, Why be Happy When You Can Be Normal, Jeanette Winterson)


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