The result of the British referendum of 23 June on the country’s membership in the European Union came as a shock to millions of people across the country and the continent. Nobody knows what will happen next, and we can only hope that the prospects of people in both the United Kingdom and Europe will improve as a result. But in the immediate aftermath of the vote, many feel fearful of, and angry about, its implications – and divisions in the country and across the continent have been revealed and exacerbated in a way not seen in decades.
Roberto Bolaño says that there are books for when you’re bored, books for when you’re calm, books for when you’re sad, books for when you’re happy, and books for when you’re thirsty for knowledge. And then, he says, “there are books for when you’re desperate”. Many feel desperate today. More than ever, we need words to guide us all – whether we be ‘remainers’, ‘leavers’ or outside observers – through this period of uncertainty, and strengthen our resolve to find a peaceful and positive way forward.
Over the next five weeks, the Five One Review will present one poem of despair and four poems of hope and humour. We are faced with difficult choices. Our mind dictates that we should listen to the fears and hopes of both sides, and think as deeply as we can about this crisis in order to best resolve it. As for our courage, it dictates that we should not lose ourselves in despair but rather, in the words of Hamlet, “take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them”.
London, 9 July 2016
Our selection of poetry, music and art for all five weeks of this theme is available by clicking on the tabs above or through the links below: