The Result Is What You See Today: poems about running

Edited by poet-runners Paul Deaton, Kim Moore and Ben Wilkinson, The Result Is What You See Today threads running and poetry through myriad routes, venturing into the how, why and where of a timeless human act.

There are as many reasons to run as there are runners, and The Result Is What You See Today is published this October, a time when two million adults in England alone go running at least once a week. Co-editor Paul Deaton highlights what a joy it is to have brought together in one collection so many different voices on one human activity. ‘There may be a favourite or two among these poems,’ Deaton says, ‘but the beauty of them is that one or two doesn’t do justice to placing us in the world. A hundred poems takes on what running is.

‘This is a collection of varied, disparate and individual voices, all sharing the same root cause and a liberation in an activity that at its best transcends circumstance and brings the person back into the heartfelt truth of themselves.’

Running keeps the mind alert, and writing requires an alert mind. A noticing mind.

Paul Deaton, co-editor

There is a harmony between running and writing that is brought to bear in this collection, as evidenced in many of the poems themselves. ‘Running keeps the mind alert’, says Deaton, ‘and writing requires an alert mind. A noticing mind.’

Similarly, Ben Wilkinson describes running and poetry as ‘two sides of the same finisher’s medal. Despite the company, competitors and camaraderie, both are fundamentally solitary pursuits. With running, it’s you versus the path ahead, you versus your fellow competitors. In poetry, it’s you versus the blank page, you versus the many ways in which words and language might fail. The margins for success are slim, the chances of failure are high. The communities that poetry fosters are much like those among runners: solidarity, mutual recognition of determination and effort, achievement in the face of the odds.’

The poems here are as varied and vibrant as running itself. Whether you’re new to running or a seasoned athlete, and whatever your interest, you’ll find words to inspire and entertain.

Jo Pavey, MBE
Long distance runner and World, European and Commonwealth medallist

It is this sense of community for poets and runners alike that The Result Is What You See Today captures and provides. As Kim Moore highlights, ‘both poetry and running have a contradiction at their heart, rooted in the individual act, yet they have to take place within a living, thriving community.’

The first section of this anthology is entitled ‘What I was born for’ and holds all those poems which try to articulate the reasons for running. ‘Against the rising light’ is the second section, and examines perhaps one of the central reasons why we run – as a way of being present and grounded in the world. The third section, ‘Our bodies gone to our heads’, examines the ways in which the body can carry us through pain and difficulty, and how it can also let us down. Finally, The fourth of final section of The Result Is What You See Today explores the idea of running being a transformative act, and is entitled ‘I wont’t stop until I’ve travelled from one life to another’.

This affirmative anthology shows that poetry and running have much in common, fulfilling a basic need to live freely, expressively and to feel alive. The poems gathered here reflect this freedom in all its forms: from the track to nature’s trails, from sprints to endurance, from near-spiritual moments of private connection to the buzz of competitive camaraderie.

Paul Deaton’s A Watchful Astronomy (Seren, 2017), was a PBS Recommendation and a National Poetry Day selected title. His favourite race is the London Marathon, and he follows a small stream called the Malago uphill for his weekly runs. 

Kim Moore’s The Art of Falling (Seren, 2015) won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. She has won a New Writing North Award, an Eric Gregory Award and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize. Her favourite local race is the Dalton 10k, and she loves the Endmoor 10k – part of the Kendal race series – for his hilly route and the delicious cakes provided afterwards.

Ben Wilkinson’s Way More Than Luck was published by Seren in 2018. He has won the Poetry Business Book and Pamphlet Competition and a Northern Writers’ Award. He is a big fan of parkrun for the happiness, health and community it brings to millions of people every week, in the true spirit of running.