Roger Housden


Roger Housden








Why Is Poetry Necessary?
You may never have read a poem in your life, and yet you can pick up a volume, open it to any page, and find yourself suddenly blown into a world of awe, dread, wonder, marvel, deep sorrow or joy. Poetry at its best calls forth our deep Being, bids us live by its promptings; it dares us to break free from the safe strategies of the cautious mind; it calls to us, like the wild geese, as Mary Oliver would say, from an open sky. It is a magical art, and always has been – a making of language spells designed to open our eyes, open our doors and welcome us into a bigger world, one of possibilities we may never dared to dream of. This is why poetry can be dangerous. Because we may never be the same again after reading a poem that happens to speak to our own life directly. When I meet my own life in a poem, I feel opened, clarified, confirmed somehow in what I sensed was true but had no words for. Anything that can do this is surely necessary for the fullness of a human life.


Roger Housden’s writing career began with feature articles on the arts for The Guardian newspaper in the UK. As of 2012, he has published twenty books, including the best-selling Ten Poems series, a book on Rembrandt and a travel book on Iran. His work has been featured many times in The Oprah Magazine, in The New York Times, and in the Los Angeles Times. He moved from his native England to the Bay Area in 1998. Maria Sharapova, the tennis star, has called his work “some of the most inspirational I have ever read”. His next book, Keeping the Faith Without a Religion, comes out early 2014 with Sounds True.

Why I support GATE

I believe that the entertainment industry is more able than any other to influence and shape popular taste and imagination, both for good and for ill. This conference clearly has the intention to bring perennial ideas and wisdom into the entertainment world in order to dignify and enlighten popular imagination.

My Current Media Diet

The Man Inside My Head by Pico Iyer, The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt and Middlemarch by George Eliot