Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 612

11 AUGUST 202 2 6 NEWS&VI EWS IN MY OPINION Fi Glover The Radio 4 journalist airs her views IN MY OPINION i lover The Radio 4 journalist airs her views Everyone has something they’ve thrown out bymistake. The loss niggles away in our brains, doesn’t it? These things often seem to be far more valuable to us than they are. I recall a pair of earrings, not expensive but certainly irreplaceable, which I must have left in the shower at the gym. Then there’s my copy of an Ian Rankin limited edition short story, which he auctioned for charity. It got muddled up in a pile of newspapers in a hotel roomand was then thrown out. And I almost can’t bear tomention the love letter I left in the seat pocket of a plane in 1987. Spare a thought, then, for James Howells, an IT engineer fromNewport, SouthWales. During a clearout at his o ce 10 years ago, he accidentally threw away his computer hard drive. On it were 8,000 Bitcoins, mined in the very early days of the cryptocurrency revolution and worth around £150million today. Hemust have been in bits whenhe realisedwhat he’d done. Sometimes, I findmyself dwelling onmy earrings or the Rankin page of A4 that onlymyself and 99 other people got to buy. But imaginewaking up every night, missing such a life-changing sumofmoney? Since 2013, James has been fighting to excavate a local landfill site in the hope of finding his buried treasure – whichmay have disintegrated somuch that it’s not worth a penny. Newport Council has denied himentry because it’s unsafe – he’d have to dig past layers of compacted rubbish and it would pose an ecological risk. James argues that it wouldn’t just be him who benefits from the recovered drive – he’d give everyone in the area £50 worth of Bitcoins, set up a community cryptocurrency hub, clear the landfill site and replace it with a power generation facility. Even though he is now backed by a consortium, when the council response has the phrase ‘statutory duty’ in it, it’s not looking good. And let’s be honest – the ‘consortium’ is people investing in a high risk, no guarantee scheme to recover money that may or may not be still available in a high risk, no guarantee scheme. Still, I can see both sides of the coin. And if that hasn’t been registered as the title of James’ biopic, there’s no creative flair left in the world. He can have that one onme, along with some equally free advice – recycle your small electrical goods. They shouldn’t be going to landfill in the first place. ‘When the council response has the phrase “statutory duty” in it, it’s not looking good’ Fortunately…with Fi and Jane and The Listening Project are on BBC Sounds @fifiglover Poetry is having amoment. Once confined to a dusty shelf at the back of the bookshop, collections of verse now adorn the window displays. And it’s no coincidence that this renaissance comes at a time of global instability. “People turn to poetry at big emotional moments,” says Allie Esiri, an award-winning anthologist and host of live poetry events. “You reach for it at a wedding, at a funeral, and in troubled times, because it helps us express things that most of us find di cult to put into words. People like to bemoved to tears, and they also like to bemoved to laughter. Poetry can do both of those things brilliantly and quickly.” Following record sales before the pandemic (peaking in 2018, with 1.3 million collections worth £12.3million sold), the category is still growing. It’s up 12% in volume since 2019, and up 11% in value since this time last year, according to The Bookseller magazine’s audience measurement data fromNielsen BookScan. Sales of physical books are partly driven by poetry’s popularity on social media. There are nearly 70million posts with the hashtag #poetry on Instagram, as people search for bitesized verses to comfort, a rmand amuse. “The internet means that people are seeing poetry and there’s a surge of sharing poetry online,” says Allie, pointing out that before the digital age, not everyone would have had poetry books at home. “It’s also a really easy thing to post on Instagram. You can’t post a novel, but you can post a poem.” The internet has made stars of poets including Brian Bilston, Rupi Kaur and Nikita Gill. Nikita regularly posts her work – and that of others – online, and also recognises the link between instability and a thirst for verse. “These past five or six years have been themost politically divisive time in recent history,” she says. “And that’s when poets do their best work, because our job is in hope and in love, and giving people something to hold on to at a time when there is nothing to hold on to.” Being online gives poetry immediacy and relevance, she adds. “For a long time, the kind of work we were reading was fromyears ago, but when social media came in, we suddenly found lots of poets talking about our current political situation, feminism, gay rights – issues that are a ecting us right now.” With this inmind, Nikita’s latest collection, These Are theWords (Macmillan), is aimed for the first time at a young adult audience. It has verses to help with everything fromfirst loves (and first break ups) to standing up for what you believe in. “A lot of young people feel unhappy and disenfranchised and for good reasons,” she says. “They lost two years due to the pandemic and things were supposed to get better now, but it feels like they haven’t. So they look to older people to give them some sense of hope and groundedness. Everything I say to my nieces now, I’ve put into this book.” What is it about poetry that speaks to people? “We live in a world where women, especially teenage girls, get told they’re too sensitive, so they can’t be in places like government, for instance, because they’re too emotional or too hysterical,” says Nikita. “But poetry is a place where emotions are celebrated, daily comfort These Are the Words, the new poetry collection by Nikita Gill ( left), is out on 18 August; Stars read poems on Allie Esiri’s app, The Love Book (above) Finding the words Turbulent times have led to a surge of interest in poetry, and it’s never been easier to seek out verses to comfort or amuse, writes Emma Higginbotham Photography: Peace Ofure, Getty Images, Neil Bedford

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