Thursday, January 1, 2015

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry

Ben and Anthony Holden

I often embarrass my wife at movies. My emotional involvement can often lead to tears. This is not limited to movies, but she’s not nearly so embarrassed watching television programs and listened to her husband sniffle.

I blame this on my mother. Growing up, I was her movie partner. My father didn’t particularly like movies (he preferred live theater and even acted in local theater productions), so I was the one who accompanied her to all of the big movie theaters in downtown New Orleans – the Saenger, Loew’s State, the Joy, and the RKO Orpheum. At certain movies, she’d cry, and I’d cry.

However, I have to confess that I can be moved to tears by certain books, or scenes in certain books, including my own. I can’t blame my mother for that.

My wife follows a lot of British sites on Facebook, and just last week found something that seemed especially designed for me. She was right.

Anthony Holden is an award-winning British journalist who’s written books on Laurence Olivier, Tchaikovsky and Shakespeare, along with translations of opera, Greek plays, and poetry. His son, Ben Holden, is a writer, film producer. Together, they collaborated on a poetry project – Poems That Make Grown Men Cry – as a fundraising project for Amnesty International.

The volume is an anthology of the stories of 100 men who describe the words that move them to tears. Among the 100 are Colin Firth, John le Carre, Salman Rushdie, Daniel Radcliffe, Seamus Heaney, J.J. Abrams, Ian McEwan and Jonathan Franzen.

Last May, at the National Theatre in London, the Holdens hosted a reading from the book, again to help Amnesty International. Readers included Ian McEwan, author Simon Schama, actor and music historian Simon Russell Beale, Nigerian poet and novelist Ben Okri, writer and director Mike Leigh, director Richard Eyre, actor Simon McBurney, broadcaster Melvynn Bragg and ethologist and biologist Richard Dawkins (no, not the physicist).

The National Theatre recorded the program, and you can listen to it via SoundCloud, courtesy of the theatre.

I listened, and I was moved. I didn’t cry, but I was moved.

Several of the readings were also recorded on video, and you can see them on YouTube. Here is Simon Schama:


Kelly Chripczuk said...

Don't blame your mother (although I recognize tongue-in-cheek), thank your mother. It's a gift for a grown man to be able to cry. Tenderness is an under-rated attribute.

diana said...

This looks like a lovely book! Personally, I'm partial to men who cry -- it's an indication of wholeness, in my book. (Ordered the mystery you wrote about yesterday or the day before. Thanks for these great suggestions.)