I was quite moved by this post by George Szirtes on his recent involvement in the Best Poems from the London Underground anthology launch:
In bookshops there is usually the poetry corner about which Kingsley Amis once wrote a funny poem, 'A Bookshop Idyll', before turning his attention to fiction. There is, for all kinds of reasons, something coyly cornerish about Poets' Corner. Sensitives retire there in varying states of tremulousness: the robustly healthy avoid it as if it were a source of potential weakening or embarrassment. The common-sense disciples of straight-speaking and simple man-ness avoid it because it is for clever intellectual types who'll only make them feel inferior and dumb. Fancy talk for the fancy minded.
People, on the whole, only go there if it is what they already want: the corner offers a specialism, like turnip growing or vintage trains...
What is marvellous about Poems on the Underground is that it takes poetry out of the corner (I know, I live in the corner, am of it, and love it because how can you not love being with what you love?) and floats it into the very air. It is there among crowds, among advertisements, among newspapers, public notices, maps, graffiti, above the issues of London Lite and the Evening Standard. It is not in a corner. People glance up and there it is. Just a few lines of it. And those lines are doing something that nothing around them does. They hold the air. They engage an unprepared part of them (of me, of us, of you) just as the poem itself must enter the world a little unprepared, always a little surprised at itself. They engage the place we know exists within us, that rises out of all we are to meet them.
I have reluctantly excised a paragraph of this which I enjoyed very much, because it would be stealing to quote it all - but please read it all, he has something lovely to say about poetry printed on napkins in the very next para. Not only that but he has a book of poetry on the shortlist for the T.S. Eliot prize - thanks to Andrew Burke for the news of that announcement.