Carol Ann Duffy's 'Eton Manor', a tribute to the sports club redeveloped for this autumn's event, will be a permanent exhibit
Carol Ann Duffy's poem for London 2012, tracing the 100-year history of the venue chosen for the Paralympics, has been revealed.
The poet laureate performed the first reading of her poem, "Eton Manor", to members of the Eton Manor Association. Previously a community facility and sports club founded at the beginning of the 20th century, the former Eton Manor Boy's Club will be hosting wheelchair tennis and swimming training during the Olympics this summer.
Duffy's poem evokes the venue's past as well as its future, how "the acres here were once 'the Wilderness' ... Hackney Wick- / fleas, flies, bin-lids" and later how the community facility "translated poverty to self-esteem, / camaraderie, and optimism similed in smile". She ends looking to the future and the site's "legacy"; it will again become a community sports facility once the games are over. "Young lives respected, cherished, valued, helped / to sprint, swim, bowl, box, play, excel, belong," she writes. "The same high sky, / same East End moon, above this reclaimed wilderness, / where relay boys are raced by running ghosts." The poem will be iUnscribed in steel and brass at Eton Manor later this spring.
"The original Olympics involved poetry as well as sport, celebrating the wholeness of human endeavour. I think it is very good they are echoing the early spirit of the Olympics, as it would be a shame not to bring the arts into people's focus," said Duffy. "I think it makes us healthier, as well as our running, jumping and marvellous physical achievements, to look more internally at art, music and poetry."
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