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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.
From the multi-award-winning author of The Poet X and With the Fire on High comes Elizabeth Acevedo’s exceptional dual-voiced novel about loss, love and sisterhood across the sea, a story partly sparked by the fatal crash of a flight from NYC to Santo Domingo in 2001. Camino Rios has always lived in the Dominican Republic with her aunt Tia, “a woman who speaks to the dead, who negotiates with spirits”, a woman who’s like a mother to her: “Even when Mama was alive, Tia was the other mother of my heart.” Life’s not easy for them on the island, but they have it better than their neighbours as a result of Camino’s beloved Papi working in the US for most of year. To Camino, Papi is a “A king who built an empire so I’d have a throne to inherit”, and she lives for the summer months when he comes home to them. But all life is thrown into terrible disarray when she goes to meet Papi at the airport and learns that his plane has fallen from the sky, and then: “I am swallowed by this shark-toothed truth.” This story is blessed with such divinely piercing language throughout. At the same time, across the Atlantic, Yahaira Rios learns that her hero Papi has died in a plane crash. She already knew he had a wife on the island (but not of his secret daughter), and has always longed to reconcile her Dominican heritage with her American life: “Can you be from a place you have never been? You can find the island stamped all over me, but what would the island find if I was there? Can you claim a home that does not know you, much less claim you as its own?” When it emerges that Papi wishes to be buried back in DR, Yahaira’s Mami insists that she will never let her “touch foot on the sands of that tierra.” But Yahaira has other plans, not least when she’s contacted by a girl named Camino Rios who bears an undeniable resemblance to Papi, and to her too. As well as being exceptionally affecting on grief, forgiveness and family secrets, Clap When You Land is also devastatingly sharp on the exploitative tendencies of tourism. In Camino’s words: “I am from a playground place…Our land, lush and green, is bought and sold to foreign powers so they can build luxury hotels...Even the women, girls like me, our mothers and tias, our bodies are branded jungle gyms…Who reaps? Who eats? Not us. Not me.” Overflowing with truths of the heart, and truths about inequalities that need to be broken, while also addressing the complexities of what it means to be of a place, I can’t praise this highly enough. Read our 'Book-aneers of the Caribbean' listicle to find more unforgettable books by Caribbean writers. Head to our 'Black Lit Matters' list to find more must-read novels by black writers.
Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), winner of the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature and author of one of the most popular poems in the English language, 'If-', has long captured the interest of poetry lovers. Here, Thomas Pinney brings together a selection of well-established favourites and the best of the previously uncollected and unpublished poems from The Cambridge Edition of the Poems of Rudyard Kipling (2013). The poems, whether exploring the colonial experience, exposing the injustice of war, or appreciating the beauties of nature, resonate with Kipling's keen observations of his world and strong sense of poetic rhythm. Discovered by Pinney in an array of unlikely hiding places, the uncollected and unpublished poems show the diversity and development of Kipling's talent over his lifetime, and, when combined with long-held favourites, offer readers a unique opportunity to experience Kipling's mastery of poetry in a new way.
The First World War holds a unique place in the nation's history; the poetry it produced, a unique place in the nation's hearts. To mark the centenary of the First World War in 2014, the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, has engaged the most eminent poets of the present to choose the writing from the Great War that touched them most profoundly: their choices are here in this powerful and moving assembly. But this anthology is more than a record of war writing. Carol Ann Duffy has commissioned these same poets of the present to look back across the past and write a poem of their own in response to the war to end all wars.
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 ...'
Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2014. When Chaucer composed Troilus and Criseyde he gave us, some say, his finest poem, and with it one of the most captivating love stories ever written. A Double Sorrow, Lavinia Greenlaw's new work, takes its title from the opening line of that poem in a fresh telling of this most tortured of love affairs. Set against the Siege of Troy, A Double Sorrow is the story of Trojan hero Troilus and his beloved Criseyde, whose traitorous father has defected to the Greeks and has persuaded them to ask for his daughter in an exchange of prisoners. In an attempt to save her, Troilus suggests that Criseyde flees the besieged city with him, but she knows that she will be universally condemned and looks instead to a temporary measure: pretending to submit to the exchange, while promising Troilus that she will return to him within ten days. But once in the company of the Greeks she soon realises the impossibility of her promise to Troilus, and in despair succumbs to another. Lavinia Greenlaw's pinpoint retelling of this heart-wrenching tale is neither a translation nor strictly a 'version' of Chaucer's work, but instead creates something new: a sequence of glimpses from the medieval poem that refine the psychological drama of the classical story through a process of detonation or amplification of image and phrase into original poems. In a series of skillfully crafted seven-line vignettes, the author creates a zoetrope that serves to illuminate the intensity with which these characters argue each other and themselves into and out of love. The result is a breathtaking and shattering read -contemporary and timeless - that builds into an unforgettable telling of this most heartbreaking of love stories.
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.
Companion to A Nature Poem for Every Day of the Year and Friends: A Poem for Every Day of the Year, A Nature Poem for Every Night of the Year is an exquisitely curated collection that induces calm contemplation as it evokes nature in all its awe-inspiring forms - frozen lakes, majestic trees, creeping autumnal twilights, disquieting night winds, multitudes of birds, and much more besides. It’s a book to reach out to before bed, for pondering each poem will instil a sense of slowing down before sleep sets in, nurturing gentle focus and moments of natural respite. As the book progresses through the year, there’s a tangible sense of nature budding, blooming and abating through the shifting seasons. We walk with Oscar Wilde by the “withered leaf of the moon”. We pass through the “door of spring” with Ethelwyn Wetherald. We revel in springtime birdsong beside William Wordsworth. We’re dazzled by Christina Rossetti’s blossoming “golden glories”. And then comes Betjeman’s harvesttime hues, Tennyson’s September dew, and Sara Teasdale’s “feathery filigree of frost”. Alongside such esteemed names, lesser-known poets are included too, which means it also serves as an excellent springboard to discovering hitherto unknown voices.
Winner of the Costa Book of the Year Award 2009. Josephine Hart, chair of the final judges, said: ”Out of a personal tragedy, Christopher Reid has written a masterwork which has universal power. Austere, beautiful and moving – we all felt this is a book we would want everyone to read. Packed full of unforgettable lines, A Scattering is a remarkable piece.”
An ebullient collection of favourite Scottish rhymes and songs for adults to read to their children. These verses show how the old rhymes are still popular with children – despite the arrival of newer technologies - and that they are inspiring the creation of new versions with a contemporary twist. Armed with this collection no adult will ever be short of a rhyme or a song!
This is shortlisted for the 2014 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Prize for Best Collection. In this absorbing, brilliant new collection - his first since Black Cat Bone - John Burnside examines our shared experience of this mortal world: how we are 'all one breath' and - with that breath - how we must strive towards the harmony of choir. Recognising that our attitudes to other creatures - human and non-human - cause too much damage and hurt, that 'we've been going at this for years: a steady delete of anything that tells us what we are', these poems celebrate the fleeting, charged moments where, through measured and gracious encounters with other lives, we find our true selves, and bring some brief, insubstantial goodness and beauty into being. He presents the world in a series of still lifes, in tableaux vivants and tableaux morts, in laboratory tests, anatomy lessons, in a Spiegelkabinett where the reflections in the mirrors, distorted as they seem, reveal buried truths. All the images are in some sense self-portraits: all are, in some way, elegies. One of the finest and most celebrated lyric poets at work today, John Burnside is a master of the moment - when the frames of our film seem to slow and stop and a life slips through the gap in between - and each poem here is a perfect, uncanny hymn to humanity, set down 'to tell the lives of others'.
This is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Sarah Maguire's first collection, Spilt Milk, established her as one of the most original voices in British poetry, and led to her being chosen as one of the New Generation Poets. Three critically acclaimed volumes have since followed - The Invisible Mender, The Florist's at Midnight and The Pomegranates of Kandahar - to form a lucid, lyrical and rich body of work remarkable for its intelligence and artistry.
Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2009. Costa Book Awards 2009 Judges' comment: "Beautifully written, intelligent, full of ideas clearly communicated and feelings perfectly encapsulated - these are proper poems with musical structure that are clever, moving and memorable." Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 4 December 2008. Clive James is well know as a TV presenter and writer of prose but not everyone knows he has written poetry. Here in his third anthology he brings together poems written over the last five years. Definitely worth a look if you are a fan of Clive as these poems show his same inimitable style and charm.
Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry 2011. With Armour, the great Australian poet John Kinsella has written his most spiritual work to date and his most politically engaged. The world in which these poems unfold is strangely poised between the material and the immaterial, and everything which enters it kestrel and fox, moth and almond does so illuminated by its own vivid presence: the impression is less a poet honouring his subjects than uncannily inhabiting them. Elsewhere we find a poetry of lyric protest, as Kinsella scrutinizes the equivocal place of the human within this natural landscape, both as tenant and self-appointed steward. Armour is a beautifully various work, one of sharp ecological and social critique but also one of meticulous invocation and quiet astonishment, whose atmosphere will haunt the reader long after they close the book.
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?