Three weeks ago, I sat on a beach in Lisbon, looked out at the Atlantic, pondered about how people can possibly only focus on taking pictures of themselves, when vast expanses of the ocean before them. As I enticed myself into one of my favorite moods (brooding! Alas, world, you disappoint!), for the first time, in MONTHS, I read. I felt words enter my head and sit there for hours, I felt intertwined in sentences. I turned a page, a physical page, not a swipe of my thumb and I READ. It was Fernando Pessoa I was reading, and it was here that I realized, once again, the power of poetry. I was liberated with short sentences that may mean nothing concrete, when all I was doing for the past some months was reading other people’s opinions on the Syrian war.
It is pure joy when sentences break into others, ultimate enlightenment when the empty space under a poem is filled replete with your own thoughts, poetry, like professional brooder T.S. Eliot once said, is to be able to communicate before it is understood.
So for World Book Day, I would like to honour the first man that taught me that sense is never to be made in the conventional way.
All hail, Ogden Nash! The first time I read Nash was when I was four, and my uncle presented me with a fat collection, telling me the importance of gibberish, and that joy could only be found in rhyme. That day, I read for hours. I found out that god in his wisdom made the fly, and he forgot to tell us why! I learned that celery stewed (which I would later discover is a vegetable) is more quietly chewed. Nash, like the best of old drunk men, taught me that it was important to be funny to engage, to be able to rely on lyric and rhyme when all else was lost, and most importantly — that a good cocktail trumps everything else.