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Short and sweet poems and sonnets or lyrical and lengthy epics, sit back and relax while you enjoy the work of these wonderful wordsmiths.
This is what a reading experience is all about, Ness touches, tests, pushes, strokes, inspires, and I have given this little book my heart. I have hesitated about explaining the background to Ness, but have decided that to know doesn’t unduly shape thoughts. Orford Ness in Suffolk is a shingle island which is constantly changing due to the sea and weather. It is the site of an abandoned military base where research included nuclear weaponry during the Cold War. The author and illustrator know this place, and have created a powerful lyrical read where nature takes steps to stop a crime against the world. It is a wonderful heady mix of novella and poetry-prose, a fantasy creation of word and illustration that took up lodging in my mind. A hagstone, which allows a veiled glimpse to the future or past, sits centre stage throughout the book, the illustrations by Stanley Donwood allowing a viewing station, a pause, before the next taste of action. The words by Robert Macfarlane sing, they just beg to be spoken, to be heard. As I spoke the words, I had the feeling that I was setting them free, and at the final few pages a shiver of emotion skittered down my arms. Ness is a beautiful yet fierce and frightening call, containing a warning that we should be shrieking from the rooftops. I have chosen it as one of my Liz Robinson Picks of the Month, and a LoveReading Star Book.
Here you can discover a truly lovely collection of poems celebrating friendship. With 365 on offer, you can read one a day for a year, or splurge out and just read until sated. Can I say how visually gorgeous this book is, both inside and out! Friends sits so well alongside its sister A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year, and here is where I admit to stroking the cover when I first picked it up (stroking beautiful books is absolutely, in fact more than fine in my opinion). Edited by Jane McMorland Hunter, each poem focuses on the special nature of friendship and each month is preceded by a lovely illustration by Tatiana Boyko. In her introduction she examines the different types of friendship, from marriage, to a connection with or between animals. Also contained within are some extracts from essays, novels, plays, and diaries. I found some of my favourite poets, including Christina Rossetti, William Blake, and Edward Lear, there really is the most huge variety on offer here! Friends A Poem For Every Day Of The Year called out to me, it made me smile, it is a book I will treasure, and dip into again and again. It really would make the most perfect present (alongside its sister) and I can highly recommend it.
By turns gripping, meditative and elemental, and always inspirational, this treasure trove of prose, poetry and art lays bare a richness of relationships between female adventurers and the great outdoors. Shunning conventional, simplistic narratives about mankind conquering the highest this, or the deepest that, each adventurer-contributor shares their unique experiences with enlightening, engaging subtlety. In the wise words of one writer, “People go outdoors to push themselves past what they thought they could do…I go outdoors for the struggle, not to beat it.” This eloquent anthology contains over seventy pieces of writing and art, among them an enlightening piece about the motivations of an Antarctic researcher, an intimate account of a mountaineer’s connection with her father through cross-country skiing, and an exquisite evocation of the sensuous life-forces of a Dartmoor brook. It’s a delight to dip into, and the perfect gift for nature-lovers and adventure-seekers.
This captivating collection comprises intensely poignant profiles of people and places; of domestic life and wild landscapes, especially Scotland’s “dark and stormy waters”, with flashes of crimson running through the poems in the form of fire, a fox, red shoes, a red balloon. Among the cast of memorable characters is Mrs Dungeon Brae, terrifying in both life and death, and The Knitter, who “knits to keep death away” and urgently recounts big life occasions knitting has accompanied her through, all the while “casting on, casting off”. Then there’s the grandmother lamenting the fact that “it’s no like the past for grannies these days...nobody knows how to make a conversation/ let alone make a home-made meal or a fresh baked scone.” Brimming with humanity - with love, anger, frustration and flashes of humour - this engaging, accessible anthology makes a richly rewarding gift for language lovers of all ages.
Uplifting and dazzlingly unique, this coming-of-age treasure explores identity and sexuality with an emboldening message to remember that “you have the right to be you”. As a young Barbie-loving boy, mixed race Michael wonders if he’s “only half” of everything, to which his mother poignantly replies: “Don’t let anyone tell you/that you are half-black/and half-white. Half-Cypriot/ and half-Jamaican./ You are a full human being.” But he doesn’t feel like a whole human being. Dubbed a “queerdo and weirdo” by bullies and subjected to “batty bwoy” taunts through his teenage years, he leaves London for Brighton University with hope in his heart. But even here Michael feels “like Goldilocks; trying to find a group of people/the perfect fit for me”. He doesn’t feel black enough for the Caribbean Society, or Greek enough for Hellenic Society, or queer enough for the LBGT Society. Then Michael finally finds a fit at Drag Society where he becomes The Black Flamingo, “someone fabulous, wild and strong. With or without a costume on.” Michael’s journey is complex, moving and told with a raw vitality that makes the soul soar and the heart sing, with Anshika Khullar’s magnificent illustrations and the smart design adding further depth, prompting the reader to pause for thought as his story requires.
This consummately fascinating study into the relationship between dance and poetry – the “step” of dance, and the “foot” of verse – presents a complex, intricate interlacing of disciplines. Dappled with personal anecdotes alongside probing evolutionary questions, historical depth and contemporary insights, it is at once thought-provoking and engaging. The author’s experience as both a dancer and poet inform his unique investigation. He ascribes his long-held passion for both to a deep-rooted childhood awareness of rhythm: “Rhythm is common to both pursuits. Increasingly I have come to feel that dance is a language and that language is a dance.” I found the “Which Came First?” chapter especially compelling. The author’s exploration of humankind’s transition to bipedalism and language takes in fascinating linguistic and archaeological theories, and links the shift to bipedalism to the development of reflective thought, and to walking as an expressive activity. Suffused in spirited intellectualism and a global perspective, this is a must-read for anyone interested in poetry, dance and exploring the history of humanity through the lens of the arts.
From the award-winning poet and playwright behind Barber Shop Chronicles, The Half-God of Rainfall is an epic story and a lyrical exploration of pride, power and female revenge. There is something about Demi. When this boy is angry, rain clouds gather. When he cries, rivers burst their banks and the first time he takes a shot on a basketball court, the deities of the land take note. His mother, Modupe, looks on with a mixture of pride and worry. From close encounters, she knows Gods often act like men: the same fragile egos, the same unpredictable fury and the same sense of entitlement to the bodies of mortals. She will sacrifice everything to protect her son, but she knows the Gods will one day tire of sports fans, their fickle allegiances and misdirected prayers. When that moment comes, it won’t matter how special he is. Only the women in Demi’s life, the mothers, daughters and Goddesses, will stand between him and a lightning bolt.
First Rhyme Mum is an entertaining journey through pregnancy and early motherhood - it made me laugh and reminisce. There are 40 poems in the book - all are fun, relatable and (mainly) humorous, covering wide-ranging topics that you wouldn’t usually expect to find in poetic form, such as needing a wee, a mother’s ‘baby brain’, the job description of motherhood, night shifts and ‘to-do lists’. The poems contain acute observations of everyday life and are varied and very well written, combining simple words to create powerful imagery. I could sense the emotion behind each poem - the excitement yet worry of the 40 weeks of pregnancy and the exhaustion and elation once baby arrives, all bound together by a mother’s love. I was particularly impressed by how the author fits so much descriptive language into each poem while still ensuring that each one manages to give a sense of rhythm and rhyme (even if this doesn’t always match exactly). It reminded me of some of Pam Ayres’s poems, with its sense of humour and laugh-out-loud moments. The book is easy to dip in and out of - each poem is short enough to slot into a few minutes during a busy day. It’s a lovely gift for new parents to remind them that they’re not alone and that others are going through the same emotional ups and downs. It also has wider-ranging appeal, as it reminded me of my own pregnancy experiences and made me chuckle as I recalled stories of early parenthood (my children are now in their mid to late teens). My only regret is that the book ended too soon, but fortunately there are more books on their way.
Braid Poems And Thoughts is a diverse collection of verses by Pierre Sotér, compiled by Anna Tegner. These poems explore human sentiment and the unrelenting of Time, through nature symbolism and motifs pertaining to suns, moons, seas and stars thereby giving a sense of human insignificance and natural beauty. Poems such as Like Fire poeticize human inclination, likening the Moon locked into its orbit to the echo of former pain. I’ll Ask reiterates our ephemeral being in light of pining for eternal youth. For I want to live after rages the storm and I want to buy silver light in the Moon. The nature symbolism bears its presence in many of Sotér’s poems, including Symmmetric Blue, Waves & Tides; a poem that artistically renders the waves of the sea galloping like a horse and Silver Drops where mere rain is compared to silver, in such a way that exposes our shallow nature as humans. In my world, silver shines and drops, but in others, it’s sold in shops. This vast selection of free verse and rhyme includes relatable poems, bound to resonate with many readers, such as Read which perfectly renders the world as beyond the scope of human words and thus personally affected me, as one who revels in reading and writing. The Shakespearean inspired rhyming couplets that culminated such poems as Read and many others were very percipient ways of resounding Sotér’s candid wisdom. “Read this world of ours, but do it right, And then, with human words, let’s try to write.” Sotér is a deft weaver of emotive imagery but his scholarly use of metaphor often got lost on me, an everyday reader in a world of artistic subjectivity. Still one can appreciate his grasp on the futile yet beautifully infinite nature of life and humanity. Lois Cudjoe, A LoveReading Ambassador
Wake up to the wonder of our countryside with this gorgeous book containing a nature poem for every day of the year. I adore this idea, in a world that is changing and becoming endangered in our lifetime, reading a poem a day about nature through the seasons helps to open our eyes to the importance of simple natural beauty and pleasures. The cover is a stunner, bold, simple colours catch the eye, the illustrations by Tatiana Boyko effectively highlight the introduction to each month contained within. The poems range from old to new, the poets from the well known such as William Blake, Percy Bysshe Shelley and Edgar Allan Poe, to those I hadn’t heard of, all of the poems connect with love to the natural world that surrounds us. Jane McMorland Hunter explains in her introduction that the poems are either in their entirety or reduced to an extract. The natural world is what is on show here, and an extract can, in essence, highlight the beauty of that with just a few simple lines such as Thomas Lovell Beddoes “A Lake Is a river curled and asleep like a snake”. Any extracts are explained, so you can easily search out the rest of the poem. A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year is going to sit on my bedside table, I can’t wait to open it up each day, to reaffirm and celebrate my love for nature.
**LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018** Winner of The Roehampton Poetry Prize 2018 'A beautiful, vigorous and achingly melancholy hymn to the common man that is as unexpected as it is daring' John Banville, Guardian A noir narrative written with the intensity and power of poetry, The Long Take is one of the most remarkable - and unclassifiable - books of recent years. Walker is a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder; he can't return home to rural Nova Scotia, and looks instead to the city for freedom, anonymity and repair. As he moves from New York to Los Angeles and San Francisco we witness a crucial period of fracture in American history, one that also allowed film noir to flourish. The Dream had gone sour but - as those dark, classic movies made clear - the country needed outsiders to study and dramatise its new anxieties. While Walker tries to piece his life together, America is beginning to come apart: deeply paranoid, doubting its own certainties, riven by social and racial division, spiralling corruption and the collapse of the inner cities. The Long Take is about a good man, brutalised by war, haunted by violence and apparently doomed to return to it - yet resolved to find kindness again, in the world and in himself. Robin Robertson's The Long Take is a work of thrilling originality.
Encompassing works from ancient sages, classic poets, well-known thinkers and emerging contemporary innovators from all walks of life, this involving, inclusive collection inspires, entertains, enthrals and emboldens. Alongside enjoying the work of widely-esteemed names (including Sappho, George Eliot, Sylvia Plath, Carol Ann Duffy, Jackie Kay, Christina Rosetti, Maya Angelou, Emily Dickinson and Margaret Atwood), it was a pleasure to discover contemporary poets whose work I shall seek out, among them Ruth Awola and Remi Graves, and lesser-known names from the past, for example Edith Södergran and Astrid Hjertenaes Andersen. If the diversity of voices is rich, so too are the themes, with growing up, friendship, love, nature, body image and protest covered in staggering depth and diversity. This varied chorus of bold, incisive voices makes for a collection to be savoured and shared.
The Forward Book of Poetry 2019 brings together the best poetry published in the British Isles over the last year, including the winners of the 2018 Forward Prizes. In showcasing the range and ambition of today's fresh voices alongside new work by familiar names, this anthology is a perfect introduction to contemporary poetry. 'The Forward Prizes are invaluable in finding the most essential, exciting voices, highlighting the contemporary poets who are at the top of their game and whose words will travel far and reach many readers.' Bidisha, chair of judges, Forward Prizes for Poetry 2018.
From the beginning, the poet was a wanderer, a storyteller, an imaginer of bridges between worlds. Zaffar Kunial is just such a poet and guide for us today. Yet his territory extends much further afield than those of the past - through Kashmir, where his father was born and now lives, to the Midlands of his mother's birth, and further north to ancestors in Orkney, as well as through language, memory and time. Already an acknowledged star of the Faber New Poets scheme, Kunial has won admirers in such measure as to ensure that Us is one of the most anticipated debuts in recent times. Across its pages, he vocalises what it means to be a human being planting your two feet upon the dizzying earth - and he does so delicately, urgently, intimately - in some of the most original and touching ways that you will read.
From the Haiku to Xanadu, a well-crafted poem can speak of an experience of our world in a way that stays with us for a long time; often for life. Everyone has a poem they learned in school that holds increased sentimental importance as time goes by.
The ability of words and language to define us and the poet’s ability to harness it are what makes poetry such a powerful genre. The field is huge, the subjects covered too numerous to list. From the fields of Flanders to the kitchen sink there are poems that encapsulate all of human life. Funny, thought-provoking, challenging, evocative, story-telling, satire and tribute. All are here. Why not use our special recommendations to find something to inspire you today?