The riches of Monaco are legend. But the Mediterranean principality is impoverished in at least one respect: poetry.
It is one of just a handful of nations that has failed to come up with a poet to send to the London Cultural Olympiad, an event running ahead of the sporting thing.
With Monaco’s sole living published poet, aged 86, averse to travelling, Monaco’s director of cultural affairs “sought suggestions from local writing groups and an organisation dedicated to preserving the native language, Monegasque”, reports Jeanne Whalen in the Wall Street Journal.
“A local newspaper, the Monaco Times, joined the search, publishing a call-out for any poets to represent Monaco at the event.”
Whalen asks the captain of one of the monster luxury yachts parked up at the tax haven’s port where to find the poetry. Around here, he tells her, there would be no love for poetry “unless they can hang it on a wall and point to it and say, ‘Guess how much I spend on that?’”
She asks a bookbinder in the old town, who sends her off to a nearby house. But “the address led to a ceramics studio”. The occupant replied: “Poetry? No. I do pottery.”
There’s no such problem in New Zealand, meanwhile. At least six of our poets will be flying national flags at the Cultural Olympiad, according to the International Institute of Modern Letters’ newsletter – including New Zealand citizen Yang Lian representing China.
Maybe Monaco should have come poet-hunting down here.