Poetry has always been a life line for producer Isabella Macpherson. As her production company Platform Presents prepares to host a Poetry Gala this month to raise money for a new playwright’s prize, she writes for us about why it’s so important and the crucial role it plays in our lives.
I grew up in a home filled with books, many of them poetry. They were stacked on my mother’s bedside table, by the fireplace, and in bookshelves around the house. Poetry was often recited by my mother, Penelope, named after the wife of Odysseus, stuff of poetic legend. She inherited this love of poetry from my grandmother, who grew up on the far North Orkney Isles – a place of myth, and an inspiration to poets.
The use of words and how they are organised is important to me as a producer. It is why I do what I do; I feel passionately about it. It is these words, contained in awesome sentences and structures, which communicate important stories and ideas to audiences. I was heavily schooled in Shakespeare, whose work underpins much of what we experience in modern theatre.
Last year, Gala Gordon and I, through our non-profit theatre company, Platform Presents, produced a play by an immensely talented writer, Mary Laws. Her writing is poetic, her choice of words deliberate, measured and very powerful. Mary says, “The stories I write only make sense to me if they move rhythmically, carried forward by the movement of the script. This is why poetry of language is so important in my plays — because it informs not only the way the characters speak, but the way the story is experienced in the bodies of the viewers.” We often don’t realise poetry’s reach. Mary now writes on one of the most brilliant, in my opinion, TV shows of the moment, HBO’s Succession.