Now that its title has your attention, please allow me to introduce Anthony and Ben Holden’s collection of verses. One hundred prominent men courageous enough to admit strong emotional reactions to poems submitted the titles they found most moving. The result is an anthology of some pretty stunning poetry, including works by Derek Walcott, Abioseh Nicol, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Gabriela Mistral, to name but a few. Based on the poems included here, this collection could probably serve as the litmus test to just how frozen your own heart is (or isn’t).
Ben Holden writes, in his preface:
Despite the male tear duct being larger than the female, studies have consistently shown that from around the age of ten a divergence occurs and thereafter boys cry far less than girls. Whether that is down to cultural or biological reasons (or, as is likely the case, both), the sad truth is that the male of our species has not always been allowed to cry. Tears may have been venerated in European cultures during the nineteenth century as a sign of high moral character, but, these days, they are all too hastily wiped away.
We want to put paid to that with this anthology (xviii).
Contributors include comedians, playwrights, movie folks, artists, and –understandably– poets, and each poem is prefaced by a short explanation of why it was selected. Cynics could argue that men in the arts might be more likely to admit to crying, but the library is filled with other books the cynics can look at while you and I explore the volume. Besides, if men like John Le Carré, Patrick Stewart, Stanley Tucci, Nick Cave, and James Earl Jones are willing to bare their souls to you, who are you to turn them away?
[Also, you know you want to know which poem Tom Hiddleston chose. You do. And I’m not telling. You’ll have to check out the book.]
The anthology was composed in partnership with Amnesty International, which notes in an afterword:
[The contributors’] emotional honesty is a healthy contrast to the behaviour that most societies expect of men. We know that bottling up emotions can lead to aggression. More than this, gender stereotyping is dangerous because it represses ability and ambition, it encourages discrimination and it upholds social inequalities that are a root cause of violence. We hope that this anthology will encourage boys, in particular, to know that crying (and poetry) aren’t just for girls (286).
Wow. Now those are some sentiments I can really get behind.
What do you think? Up your reading alley, or “no, but thanks kindly”? Is there a poem that makes you cry? Are you (wo)man enough to leave a comment about it?
whose most recent cry was over The Imitation Game.