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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.
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.”
A heartbreaking chronicle of losing the love of your life by Michel Faber, the award-winning author of The Book of Strange New Things. All I can do, in what remains of my brief time, is mention, to whoever cares to listen, that a woman once existed, who was kind and beautiful and brave, and I will not forget how the world was altered, beyond recognition, when we met.
Working as before with an ear to the oral tradition, these poems attend to the organic shapes and sounds and momentum of the language as it's spoken as well as how it's thought: fresh, fluid and propulsive, but also fragmentary, repetitive. These are poems that are written to be read aloud. Orpheus and Tithonus appear at the beginning and end of this book, alive in an English landscape, stuck in the clockwork of their own speech, and the Hours - goddesses of the seasons and the natural apportioning of Time - are the presiding figures. The persistent conditions are flux and falling, and the lines are in constant motion: approaching, from daring new angles, our experience of being human, and coalescing into poems of simple, stunning beauty.
Say Something Back will allow readers to see just why the name of Denise Riley has been held in such high regard by her fellow poets for so long. The book reproduces A Part Song, a profoundly moving document of grieving and loss, and one of the most widely admired long poems of recent years. Elsewhere these poems become a space for contemplation of the natural world and of physical law, and for the deep consideration of what it is to invoke those who are absent. But finally, they extend our sense of what the act of human speech can mean - and especially what is drawn forth from us when we address our dead.
‘We British’ is a remarkable book, full to the brim with some extraordinary poetry that will encourage you to open your heart and mind. Andrew Marr looks beyond the obvious, even when including some of our most famous poets and he also firmly links poetry with British history through the ages giving you a sense as you read, of capturing a slice in time. If you are British, this is a book to encourage questions, a thirst for more knowledge and a feeling of accessibility to our poetry and history. There are many famous poets mentioned or quoted, plus some I had not heard of, and that really is one of the joys of this book. I loved re-reading old favourites, such as Tennyson’s ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ and Chaucer’s ‘The Miller’s Tale’ and often found myself reading out loud, sighing, weeping or laughing as the words, the rhythm connected inside me. I was also introduced to some new poetry, poetry that perhaps I should have known, such as ‘Last Post’ by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. With the intriguing yet entirely appropriate mix of poetry and history, ‘We British’ is not only the 'poetry of a people', but also the essence, structure and, a wonderful chronicle of the lands that make up Great Britain. ~ Liz Robinson
Like Neil Rollinson's earlier books, Talking Dead is a refreshment of the senses: lifting the lid on the human condition in a heartfelt celebration of the act of being, whether in moments of love or mortality, sex or feasting. In the central sequence of the book - a meditation on the space between life and death - the dead speak of their final earthly moments with a liberating sense of fascination, and a luminous awe. Elsewhere we enjoy al fresco sex, astronomy via many pints in the Cat and Fiddle, and the deliverance of an Indian monsoon after weeks of thirst and drought. In 'Christmas in Andalucia' two lovers Skype each other achingly across hundreds of miles - 'I am full of loss and longing,' the poet says, 'the heart is hewn from elm and oak and mistletoe.' As provocative, sensual and subversive as ever, these poems seek and find the numinous in the everyday: some element of ritual or wonder that transforms experience. Although the spectre of darkness is never far away, it is the spirit of pleasure that endures, and we discover to our delight, as D.H. Lawrence did, that the Dionysian finally prevails over the Apollonian.
40 Sonnets is the new collection by Don Paterson, a rich and accomplished work from one of the foremost poets writing in English today. This new collection from Don Paterson, his first since the Forward prize-winning Rain in 2009, is a series of forty sonnets. Some take a more traditional form, some are highly experimental, but what these poems share is a lyrical intelligence and musical gift that has been visible in his work since his first book of poems, Nil Nil, in 2009. Addressed to children, friends and enemies, the living and the dead, musicians, poets and dogs, these poems display an ambition in their scope and tonal range matched by the breadth of their concerns. Here, voices call home from the blackout and the airlock, the storm cave and the seance, the coalshed, the war, the ringroad, the forest and the sea. These are voices frustrated by distance, by shot glass and bar rail, by the dark, leaving the 'sound that fades up from the hiss, / like a glass some random downdraught had set ringing, / now full of its only note, its lonely call ...'
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?