Art Of Apology, The [The Essay]

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0120200224

Poet and self-confessed apology addict Helen Mort explores the human impulse to apologise and what we seek when we say sorry. She reflects that sometimes remorse and forgiveness are only part of the story and can mask more complex emotions and subtexts.
Drawing on some of the poems that have helped shape her including William Carlos Williams' poem This Is Just To Say, Helen shines a light on what we're really doing when we say sorry.

Producer Zita Adamson

An Overtone Production for BBC Radio 3

Poet Helen Mort reflects that saying sorry is often not just about contrition.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

0220200225

Poet Helen Mort continues her journey exploring the complexities and subtexts of apology, drawing on both her own lifelong tendency to say sorry for almost anything and on remarkable poetic apologies including Ralph Waldo Emerson's The Apology.
She reflects on how we often use apology to justify or explain our behaviour rather than express contrition and examines the motives of those posting under the hashtag #sorrynotsorry.

Do we sometimes say sorry as a pre-emptive defence against criticism, she asks? And is this a modern phenomenon or a return to apology's roots as a rhetorical or argumentative device?

Producer Zita Adamson
An Overtone Production for BBC Radio 3

Poet Helen Mort explores non-apology through some of the poems that have shaped her.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

0320200226

How often do we imagine saying sorry to someone or wish they had said sorry to us, particularly if they are no longer with us? Poet Helen Mort continues her journey exploring the complexities and subtexts of apology, drawing on both her own lifelong tendency to over-apologise and on remarkable poetic apologies.

She asks whether sometimes we apologise for something superficial or even trivial as a way of saying sorry for a more fundamental gap in understanding – for all the things that can get lost in translation in the messy business of communicating with other people who are different from us.

Through Tony Harrison's poem Marked With D, she reflects on how apology can stand in for an unbridgeable gap between people – a failure to understand another human being.

Producer Zita Adamson
An Overtone Production for BBC Radio 3

Poet Helen Mort explores whether apologies sometimes stand in for a failure to understand.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

0420200227

Why do we apologise for the wrongs others have done us or for events that are outside our control? Poet Helen Mort continues her journey exploring the complexities and subtexts of apology, drawing on both her own lifelong tendency to over-apologise and on remarkable poetic apologies.

She reflects on the correlation between apology and feeling 'at fault' and asks whether women experience this more acutely than men. Women are said to apologise more than men. Is this connected to the way they are made to feel responsible for their appearance, asks Helen?

She asks whether we can apologise too much, examining this through Alan Buckley's poem Being a Beautiful Woman, her own poem My Fault and first play Medusa where the protagonist says a bitter 'sorry' for the things that have happened to her including her rape by Poseidon, the God of the Sea.

Producer Zita Adamson
An Overtone Production for BBC Radio 3

Poet Helen Mort explores over-apologising through some of the poems that have shaped her.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

0520200228

Is apology a means of regular, sublimated confession in a secular society? Poet Helen Mort explores the complexities and subtexts of apology, drawing on both her own lifelong tendency to over-apologise and on remarkable poetic apologies.

Do we sometimes say ‘sorry’ for something inappropriate and specific when we actually feel a more general sense of sorrow and guilt, she asks? Helen looks at Caroline Bird's expression of this in the poem A Toddler Creates Thunder By Dancing On A Manhole where the presence of apology is all the more powerful because it is a spectral apology, remaining unuttered.

And Helen suggests that apology does not always need a target. "Sometimes, I just want to apologise for the world and my place in it," she says.

Producer Zita Adamson
An Overtone Production for BBC Radio 3

Poet Helen Mort reflects on when apology stands in for a sense of sorrow and guilt.

Essays from leading writers on arts, history, philosophy, science, religion and beyond.

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