Credo: Josephine Hart

Author and poetry promoter
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The Independent Online

I believe...

Poets are the gods of literature. After that come novelists and then playwrights. In poetry, you have to choose so carefully the minimum number of words to carry the maximum weight of philosophical and psychological knowledge; then they have to sound right within the poem's context.

Being anti-elitist somehow got mixed up with being anti-serious-art, which did a tremendous amount of damage. The leaders of the country could not be seen to be seriously interested in the arts because that would mean they weren't interested in – that ghastly phrase – "ordinary people". There's no such thing as ordinary people. Everybody is extraordinary, and great art is written out of the experience of life wherever life threw you into it.

Being overtly atheist was easier some time ago but a very nice man said: "It is very arrogant of you because there are other people who are dependent on belief."

It is hard to work out your own moral code. I do not believe in the afterlife, but to set your own moral code with no reward is still a wonderful path to travel in life.

I'm not passionately political – except in the context of Ireland and terrorism. As Maurice [Saatchi, my husband] would say, don't get me started. I believe something went very wrong the day we agreed to let known murderers out of prison for whatever price. That was a terrible thing to do to the moral fabric of our society. A man or woman who blows women and children to pieces for an ideal should, at the very least, serve their term. I'm very grateful there is peace but I'm not the only person to say it is less pure than we are told.

I am mad about Elvis Presley. He hit a beat. He had something strange physically and mentally because he had a grace. There was something sweet even in those supposedly erotic movements.

'The Josephine Hart Poetry Programme' is at 4.30pm on Sundays on Radio 4.

Listen to Roger Moore reading Rudyard Kipling's 'Danny Deever'

Taken from 'Catching Life by the Throat: How to Read Poetry and Why', by Josephine Hart, with poetry readings by a cast of actors. Available from little, brown Book Group