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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.
BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week Benjamin Zephaniah, who has travelled the world for his art and his humanitarianism, now tells the one story that encompasses it all: the story of his life. In the early 1980s when punks and Rastas were on the streets protesting about unemployment, homelessness and the National Front, Benjamin's poetry could be heard at demonstrations, outside police stations and on the dance floor. His mission was to take poetry everywhere, and to popularise it by reaching people who didn't read books. His poetry was political, musical, radical and relevant. By the early 1990s, Benjamin had performed on every continent in the world (a feat which he achieved in only one year) and he hasn't stopped performing and touring since. Nelson Mandela, after hearing Benjamin's tribute to him while he was in prison, requested an introduction to the poet that grew into a lifelong relationship, inspiring Benjamin's work with children in South Africa. Benjamin would also go on to be the first artist to record with The Wailers after the death of Bob Marley in a musical tribute to Nelson Mandela. The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah is a truly extraordinary life story which celebrates the power of poetry and the importance of pushing boundaries with the arts.
In this intimate and vital debut, Richard Scott creates an uncompromising portrait of love and gay shame. Examining how trauma becomes a part of the language we use, Scott takes us back to our roots: childhood incidents, the violence our scars betray, forgotten forebears and histories. The hungers of sexual encounters are underscored by the risks that threaten when we give ourselves to or accept another. But the poems celebrate joy and tenderness, too, as in a sequence re-imagining the love poetry of Verlaine. The collection crescendos to Scott's tour de force, 'Oh My Soho!', where a night stroll under the street lamps of Soho Square becomes a search for true lineage, a reclamation of stolen ancestors, hope for healing, and, above all, the finding of our truest selves.
Hannah Sullivan's debut collection is a revelation - three long poems of fresh ambition, intensity and substance. Though each poem stands apart, their inventive and looping encounters make for a compelling unity. 'You, Very Young in New York' captures a great American city, in all its alluring detail. It is a wry and tender study of romantic possibility, disappointment, and the obduracy of innocence. 'Repeat until Time' begins with a move to California and unfolds into an essay on repetition and returning home, at once personal and philosophical. 'The Sandpit after Rain' explores the birth of a child and the loss of a father with exacting clarity. In Three Poems, readers will experience Sullivan's work with the same exhilaration as they might the great modernising poems of Eliot and Pound, but with the unique perspective of a brilliant new female voice.
One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | A book to make you think and feel, this is an important, beautiful, spellbinding treasure. Words from nature are disappearing, being removed, left to one side to be forgotten. Some words are in real danger of being lost forever, this book reveals those words, sings them, shows them, reminds us how to love them. Spell-weavers Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris have created a bewitching ode to nature, reminding us of the danger of absence, highlighting beauty, whispering to our soul. It feels as though the words, the poems, and vividly beautiful pictures are as one, the essence of the word, of the being, escapes the page to wrap itself around you. ‘The Lost Words’ is suitable for all ages, and should find a special place in all homes, all libraries, all schools, all hearts. Do read the spell-poems out loud, listen, look, feel, touch, allow your awareness to open and receive these gifts. I found myself entranced, I fell completely under the spell of ‘The Lost Words’, I simply can’t recommend it highly enough. ~ Liz Robinson
A distillation of prescriptions given – and taken – on William Sieghart’s online Poetry Pharmacy. No harm to be got from these prescriptions, instead there is comfort, love, advice and experience aplenty. I was immediately taken by the poems of Hafiz, a C14 Persian poet, short sublime poems, had to google to find more so a poets index would have been useful. As anthologies such as this are useful springboards, short author biographies would too have been welcomed. Overall though, a calming collection of words for troubled souls and lovely to have a cloth bound book to treasure. ~ Sue Baker Like for Like Reading: Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times by Neil Astley The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin
Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, here is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once. *AS HEARD ON BBC RADIO 4 AND RADIO 6 MUSIC*
Looking for connections and meanings: poetic, pathetic or profound? Or just drivel? The dithyramb was an ancient Greek hymn. It was sung and danced in honour of Dionysus the god of wine and fecundity. Plato thought dithyrambs to be poetry in which the poet is the only speaker; while Socrates wrote “… not by wisdom do poets write poetry… but… like soothsayers, they say many fine things, but do not understand the meaning of them."Maybe dithyrambs are just that - mindless wanderings of the imagination – or dizzy ramblings of it – dizzyrambic imaginings! A notable example of a more modern dithyramb would be: “Alexander's Feast; or, the Power of Music” by John Dryden. When I attempted to arrange this collection of poetic musings various groupings occurred to me: nature; destiny; love and hate; future; past, and so on. In the end the alphabetic arrangement of the titles seemed to be just as appropriate as any, so there you have it. Twenty five dizzy ramblings for your consideration.
A poem on Lilian Bland - the first woman to design, build and fly her own aeroplane - celebrates the audacity and ingenuity of a great Irish heroine. Elsewhere, explorers in Greenland set foot on a fjord system accessible to Europeans for the first time in millennia as a result of global warming. But if life is fragile then its traces are persistent, insistent, and in 'Articulation' we are invited to stop and wonder at the reconstructed skeleton of Napoleon's horse, Marengo, 'whose very hooves trod mud at Austerlitz', suspended in time 'for however long he lasts before he crumbles'.
To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone. These poems are concerned with the borderline between the living and the dead - the underworld and the human living world - and the exquisitely intense being of both. They possess a spare, eloquent lyricism as they explore the bliss and anguish of the voyage. Inside the Wave is Helen Dunmore's first new poetry book since The Malarkey (2012), whose title-poem won the National Poetry Competition. Her other books include Glad of These Times (2007), and Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001), a comprehensive selection drawing on seven previous collections. Her final poem, 'Hold out your arms', written shortly before her death and not included in the first printing of Inside the Wave, has now been added to the reprint.
Richard Osmond's debut collection Useful Verses follows in the tradition of the best nature writing, being as much about the human world as the natural, the present as the past: Osmond, a professional forager, has a deep knowledge of flora and fauna as they appear in both natural and human history, as they are depicted in both folklore and herbal - but he views them through a wholly contemporary lens. Chamomile is discussed through quantum physics, ants through social media, wood sorrel through online gambling, and mugwort through a traffic cone. In each case, Osmond offers an arresting and new perspective, and makes that hidden world that lives and breathes beside us vividly part of our own.
Let Them Eat Chaos, Kate Tempest's new long poem written for live performance and heard on the album release of the same name, is both a powerful sermon and a moving play for voices. Seven neighbours inhabit the same London street, but are all unknown to each other. The clock freezes in the small hours, and, one by one, we see directly into their lives: lives that are damaged, disenfranchised, lonely, broken, addicted, and all, apparently, without hope. Then a great storm breaks over London, and brings them out into the night to face each other - and their last chance to connect.
Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2016. Sunshine is the new collection from Next Generation Poet Melissa Lee-Houghton. A writer of startling confession, her poems inhabit the lonely hotel rooms, psych wards and deserted lanes of austerity Britain. Costa judges' comment: “This collection is necessary, raw and hypnotic in its honesty.”
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?