Poster poems from EU's new members
Now someone else has had what seems an even dafter idea: poems by foreigners in NHS waiting rooms. And the Foreign Office has welcomed it with open arms.
Next Saturday thousands of international dignitaries will find posters of 10 poems by foreigners on display at a grand open day staged by the Foreign Office in London to celebrate the accession of 10 states to the EU on May 1.
The verse that will most directly remind the guests of tensions in Europe is Kamil Peteraj's Tomorrow Can Be Too Late, from Slovakia, with its undertones of ethnic cleansing: "I'm shouting/ and I'll wake up my neighbours/ and tell them/ shout as well/ and wake up your neighbours/ and tell those neighbours/ to shout too/ because tomorrow can be too late ..."
Niki Marangou's poem Roses is about the Greek Cypriot character and the sadness of living on a divided island: "I have planted .../ the centifolia from the house in mourning at Ayios Thomas/ the sixty-petalled rose Midas brought from Phrygia ..."
The other countries featured are Lithuania, the Czech republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Slovenia.
The Foreign Office joined the Arts Council and NHS Services in funding the posters after the Europe minister, Denis MacShane, seized on them as a way of increasing British awareness of the accession states.
Yesterday Rogan Wolf, the British poet who worked on the texts with the editor and poet Fiona Sampson and put the proposal to Mr MacShane, said: "It's a way of trying to make people less suspicious of foreigners. It's an easy way of introducing them to the experiences of people from other countries. By doing it through NHS posters, you talk to a lot of people."