Press

I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being

Hafez
June 11, 2024

The Poetry Pharmacy at the Queen’s Reading Room Festival

The Telegraph

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India McTaggart

Meanwhile, Helena Bonham Carter has said that poetry made her feel “stupid” when she was younger.

Speaking at The Queen’s Reading Room Festival in Hampton Court Palace, the actress discussed how she found the literary art confusing growing up.

She told the audience during “The Poetry Pharmacy” session on the main stage: “I found poetry intimidating and it made me feel stupid.

“All that I did is get older and live a bit and thought, ‘Okay, that’s death, that’s loss’…I think I asked too much of myself too soon.”

The Harry Potter actress, 58, was joined for the session by Alexander Armstrong, actor and comedian, Sir Ben Okri, the poet and novelist, William Sieghart, the entrepreneur and publisher, and Sarah Montague, the presenter and journalist.

They took part in one of the multiple talks on offer during the day festival that celebrates the written word, the second of which The Queen’s Reading Room has held.

The charity was launched by the Queen in February 2023 and has a mission to spread the benefits of reading – a beloved passion of the Queen’s – around the globe.

During the Poetry Pharmacy, the group of authors discussed the benefits of reading poetry and the session was broken up into different themes, including one about the reality of making mistakes in life.

“Poems come alive depending on the time of your life,” Bonham Carter said, explaining: “Poems have different lives as we creep through our own.”

After reading a poem about the merits of making mistakes, she added: “And haven’t you wanted to rewind?

“Of course we can’t reverse time, but we can say it’s okay to make a mistake as long as we stand up and admit it.”

“Which is something Rishi Sunak should have done,” she then quipped, prompting loud laughter and a round of applause from the crowd.

It follows the Prime Minister coming under intense criticism for leaving D-Day commemorations in Normandy early to head back to the UK to carry out a general election TV interview.

He has since apologised, admitting the move was “a mistake” on reflection.

The poetry session also touched on ageing, which Bonham Carter said she has been outspoken about in the past.

“Age is given a bad rep in our society,” she said, adding: “Sex is not the preserve of the young, nor is love, nor is fun, nor is beauty. But we all got so flipping obsessed.”

The Bafta-winning actress added: “There’s no doubt that I’m much more interesting [with age], my soul is much more beautiful.”

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