Monday, 27 May 2013
Antarctica, Shackleton and Penny McCarthy's 'Endurance'
Statue of Ernest Shackleton at the Royal Geographical Society, London. Photo by Michel Wal. Used under GNU Free Documentation License
It has been a beautiful, sunny, warm bank holiday weekend in London, and my choice of reading matter has been Antarctica by Gabrielle Walker (which I don't like as much as Sara Wheeler's Terra Incognita - but it is still excellent.) I suppose that this is fairly typical for me, though I have no desire for London to return to Antarctic conditions.
A few years ago in 2010, I went to the readings of the prize-winners in the Poetry London competition. It was a lovely evening as the great Michael Longley had judged the competition, and also read some of his own poetry. He very generously said of the various poems that anyone might have been proud to have written them.
There were several exceptional poems, but this one about Antarctic hero Ernest Shackleton, Penny McCarthy's 'Endurance', particularly struck me. It is a very subtle poem which metaphorically interweaves Shackleton's life and exploits with the complexities of human relationships.
ENDURANCE (Penny McCarthy)
As the poem alludes to Shackleton's sisters, I have to mention for six-degrees-of-separation interest that my grandparents knew his artist sister, Kathleen Shackleton, in Montreal. My family owns her portrait of my grandfather.