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Featured Poem: I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miro by Moniza Alvi

Written by The Reader, 26th November 2012

The Featured Poem is the choice this week of Sally Sweeney, Get Into Reading Project Worker in the South West, where Get Into Reading groups run across an expansive area and continues to go from strength to strength, with a strong focus on improving health and wellbeing.

You can see some of the positive impacts shared reading is having on people's health in the South West in a specially commissioned Get Into Reading 'Five Ways to Wellbeing' video over on our website and The Reader Organisation's YouTube channel.

Sally's selection is a thought-provoking piece from Moniza Alvi, bringing together the evocative colours and landscapes of a painting to bring out an exploration of wild ambitions, desires - and quite apart, or perhaps tightly bound up with such matters, the issue of self-acceptance. Sally describes the impact the poem has had in the shared reading groups she runs:

I have used Moniza Alvi’s poem I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miro in my dementia group and also in mental health groups. In the first group one woman was captivated by the poem, commenting: “That poem describes me in my dementia.” In other groups the poem has been a vehicle for people to talk about accepting themselves after years of feeling out of place in the world, or pressured to conform to others’ expectations.

I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miro

Barely distinguishable from other dots,
it’s true, but quite uniquely placed.
And from my dark centre

I’d survey the beauty of the linescape
and wonder – would it be worthwhile
to roll myself towards the lemon stripe,

centrally poised, and push my curves
against its edge, to give myself
a little attention ?

But it’s fine where I am.
I’ll never make out what’s going on
around me, and that’s the joy of it.

The fact that I’m not a perfect circle
makes me more interesting in this world.
People will stare forever –

Even the most unemotional get excited.
So here I am, on the edge of animation,
a dream, a dance, a fantastic construction,

A child’s adventure.
And nothing in this tawny sky
can get too close, or move too far away.

Moniza Alvi

I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miro is taken from The Country At My Shoulder (Oxford University Press, 1993) and is reproduced here with kind permission of the poet.

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