Poetry Books

Short and sweet poems and sonnets or lyrical and lengthy epics, sit back and relax while you enjoy the work of these wonderful wordsmiths.

Such a Sweet Singing

Such a Sweet Singing

Author: Kirsty Gunn Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/04/2022

Complied by novelist and short story writer Kirsty Dunn, with its title taken from a Gertrude Stein poem, Such a Sweet Singing is a soul-stirring collection of poems that have been chosen for their power to empower women. Sharing female voices that sing through the centuries - from Sappho through to contemporary writers - it’s a volume to savour and return to. A book to share and gift.  As Dunn sets out in her lucid, rousing introduction, “we go to poetry to be nourished”, and so she’s selected poems that might nourish women from all walks of life - women of “all ages and backgrounds”. The selections have been smartly themed, with chapters covering Courage, Love, Imagination, Family, Home, and Life, and every spread supplemented by stylish, unobtrusive illustrations. Possessing the sway to slow us down, fire us up, and spark meaningful reflection, Such a Sweet Singing is a book worth shouting about, whispering with, and treasuring. 

Books of the Month
Call Us What We Carry

Call Us What We Carry

Author: Amanda Gorman Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/12/2021

In 2021, Amanda Gorman delivered the inaugural poem on the day Joe Biden became President and became about as famous as a poet can be. This poetry collection is the follow up to that award-winning The Hill We Climb she delivered that day which received critical acclaim and international recognition. She was a ray of sunshine in her yellow suit. I was spellbound, and I’ll be honest, frantically googling her to find out more about her. On the cover of Call Us What We Carry Malala Yousafzai says: "this is a book of poetry so alive you want to hold it and protect it, to read it all at once and then immediately read it again." And I couldn’t agree more. Call Us What We Carry is dedicated to all of us "both hurting and healing who choose to carry on". It features 70 poems which talk about the collective grief of a global pandemic as well as touching upon the themes of race, identity, grief. The book closes with The Hill We Climb. The poems enclosed within are hopeful. They are powerful. They are beautiful. They are honest. It’s all so powerfully and beautifully structured and cleverly presented and her poems feature wonderful wordplay.  They shout out to be read aloud. And I found myself doing just that during the several times I have already read it. Gorman revisits history throughout the book, speaking about living through the pandemic and linking it back to historical times. Referring back to the inspirations for the poetry. It feels very intimate whilst so all-encompassing and so very timely. Of now.

Queer Life. Queer Love

Queer Life. Queer Love

Author: Golnoosh Nour, Matt Bates, Sarah Beal, Kate Beal Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/11/2021

Edited by Kate and Sarah Beal, the industry innovators behind Muswell Press, writer and poet Golnoosh Nour, and editor Matt Bates, who curates the publisher’s LGBTQI+ list, Queer Life, Queer Love is the glorious result of a global call-out for original submissions. Keen to not only push "the boundaries of gender and sexuality, but also the boundaries of literature itself," no constraints were set on the form submissions might take. And the result is a triumph - a showcase of variously stirring, subversive, intoxicating and moving poetry and prose, short stories and narrative non­-fiction that delivers the anthology’s desire to “honour a young, lost, queer life”, “to create more space to encourage and salute the diversity of queer writing, and to celebrate the richness of queer life experience”.  Among the anthology’s engaging non-fiction offerings we have Jonathan Kemp’s piece on identity and the early 1990s re-appropriation of the word “queer” as a “critical and disruptive force rather than a stinging insult”. Then there’s Sal Harris’ beautifully inventive writing on transition - its meaning, its reasons, its magic - and Katlego Kai Kolanyane-Kesupile’s punch-packing piece on being a Black transgender woman. The fiction and poetry is every bit as dazzling and varied, too - a striking, shifting kaleidoscope of lived experiences and wisdom that speaks to the soul. Brilliantly curated, the dynamic, diverse writings in Queer Life, Queer Love will have readers in their thrall.

Books of the Month
When We Make It

When We Make It

Author: Elisabet Velasquez Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2021

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied. When We Make It is a love letter to anyone who was taught to believe that they would not make it. To those who feel their emotions before they can name them. To those who still may not have all the language but they have their story. Velasquez' debut novel is sure to leave an indelible mark on all who read it.

The Kids

The Kids

Author: Hannah Lowe Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are 'The Kids', her students, the teenagers she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London. Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race - and their fundamental intersection with education - are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. The sonnet is re-energised, becoming a classroom, a memory box and even a mind itself as 'The Kids' learn and negotiate their own unknown futures. These boisterous and musical poems explore and explode the universal experience of what it is to be taught, and to teach, ultimately reaching out and speaking to the child in all of us. The poems in the first section of the book draw on Hannah Lowe's experiences as a teacher in the 2000s, but the scenarios are largely fictitious, as are the names of the students. The Kids is a Poetry Book Society Choice.

Men Who Feed Pigeons

Men Who Feed Pigeons

Author: Selima Hill Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/09/2021

Men Who Feed Pigeons brings together seven contrasting but complementary poem sequences by 'this brilliant lyricist of human darkness' (Fiona Sampson) relating to men and different kinds of women's relationships with men. The Anaesthetist is about men at work; The Beautiful Man with the Unpronounceable Name is about someone else's husband; Billy relates to friendship between a man and a woman; Biro is about living next door to a mysterious uncle; The Man in the Quilted Dressing-gown portrays a very particular old man; Ornamental Lakes as Seen from Trains is about a woman and a man she's afraid of; while Shoebill is another sequence about a woman and a man, but quite different from the others. Like all of Selima Hill's work, all seven sequences in this book chart 'extreme experience with a dazzling excess' (Deryn Rees-Jones), with startling humour and surprising combinations of homely and outlandish. Shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Collection.

Falling Into Winter

Falling Into Winter

Author: Bill Sasso Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/09/2021

Falling Into Winter: "Beneath The Snowflakes And the Stars" is a collection of metered (the poet’s preferred style) poems about a range of topics but with a focus on winter and Christmas time especially. Bill explores all aspects of this time of year, everything from the expected joy to the sadness some may associate with this time of year. "To believe there’s someone out there, Full of Magic! Full of joy! Oh, I’m sure you can remember; Weren’t you once a little boy?" Bill explores and reflects on a range of scenarios and you are sure to find one that speaks to you and gives you pause with time to ponder and reflect. "Acts unseen / And moving fast / From Winter days, / From Summers past, / As in-between we’re / Pieces of a moment - briefly cast!" (Pieces of a Moment) I particularly found appealing the poems that read of treasuring experiences and appreciating the many experiences and wonders of life. Within the words and between the lines the reader is sure to uncover a poem that speaks directly to them with a challenge or deeper meaning. Helen Hancock, A LoveReading Ambassador

Indie Books We Love
All The Names Given

All The Names Given

Author: Raymond Antrobus Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/09/2021

Raymond Antrobus's astonishing debut collection, The Perseverance, won both Rathbone Folio Prize and the Ted Hughes Award, amongst many other accolades; the poet's much anticipated second collection, All The Names Given, continues his essential investigation into language, miscommunication, place, and memory. Throughout, All The Names Given is punctuated with [Caption Poems] partially inspired by Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim, which attempt to fill in the silences and transitions between the poems, as well as moments inside and outside of them. Direct, open, formally sophisticated, All The Names Given breaks new ground both in form and content: the result is a timely, humane and tender book from one of the most important young poets of his generation.

Midnight Light

Midnight Light

Author: Michael Pace, Brian Paglinco Format: Ebook Release Date: 05/08/2021

‘Midnight Light’ by Michael Pace and Brian Paglinco is a compilation of art in two forms: a mixture of photography and poetry. Each poem is paired with an atmospheric photograph of a final resting place. As the photographs and the poems alternate I would say that this book would be best enjoyed as a hard copy, so you can appreciate them as a pair. The photographs vary in subject and composition. One is black and white, with sharp contrasts, with a single flower stark against an almost black headstone. Others are more vibrant, an angel turned away in the middle of an autumn graveyard. You can spend time on each photo, contemplating the whys and whens of each shot. There are 23 poems in all, each one of varying length, from a line to a page. I did find that I personally preferred the longer poems, 'Midnight Light' and 'Paris' were a little lost on me. Focusing on the themes of love, death and redemption there is a haunted atmosphere to each one, I feel this was intensified by their photographic companion. I thought each poem was well constructed, with an image or moment shared with the reader. As with the photographs, these are pages to turn slowly, to ponder over what happened before and what will happen after. As each piece varies in length they also vary in style, with different rhythms and pace to keep the reader engaged.

Here is the Beehive

Here is the Beehive

Author: Sarah Crossan Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

Ana and Connor have been having an affair for three years. In hotel rooms and coffee shops, swiftly deleted texts and briefly snatched weekends, they have built a world with none but the two of them in it. But then the unimaginable happens, and Ana finds herself alone, trapped inside her secret. How can we lose someone the world never knew was ours? How do we grieve for something no one else can ever find out? In her desperate bid for answers, Ana seeks out the shadowy figure who has always stood just beyond her reach - Connor's wife Rebecca. Peeling away the layers of two overlapping marriages, Here is the Beehive is a devastating excavation of risk, obsession and loss.

Star Books
Rhymes and Reason (Pandemic Polemic and Prose)

Rhymes and Reason (Pandemic Polemic and Prose)

Author: Alan McDonald Format: Paperback Release Date: 08/07/2021

An interesting way to record the events of March 2020 to March 2021, ‘Rhymes and Reason (Pandemic Polemic and Prose)’ by Alan McDonald provides a diary of limericks covering a lot of the key events and talking points during a year like no other. The bounce in the limerick style and the overall brevity of each poem means each subject is handled in a way that’s quite light, you’ll find no in depth or balanced political arguments here. ‘Rhymes and Reason’ is a personal record that will serve as a reminder, for those that want it, of most of what transpired throughout 2020. There is humour and satire within the text and each poem is introduced with a brief sentence or paragraph about the events unfolding. I think that this is a creative way to document the year and found it to be a light-hearted reminder of just how much has happened in the last year. I found each limerick well written and each introduction sufficient to set the scene without detracting from the main feature of the diary. A unique diary that I’m sure will inspire those who pick it up to reflect and remember their own experiences. Charlotte Walker, A LoveReading Ambassador

The Heeding

The Heeding

Author: Rob Cowen, Nick Hayes Format: Hardback Release Date: 17/06/2021

A year of looking, listening and noticing across four unique seasons and thirty-five beautifully illustrated poems. The world changed in 2020. Gradually at first, then quickly and irreversibly, the patterns by which we once lived altered completely. The Heeding paints a picture of a year caught in the grip of history, yet filled with revelatory perspectives close at hand: a sparrowhawk hunting in a back street; the moon over a town with a loved-one's hand held tight; butterflies massing in a high-summer yard - the everyday wonders and memories that shape a life and help us recall our own. Across four seasons and thirty-five luminous poems and illustrations, Rob Cowen and Nick Hayes lead us on a journey that takes its markers and signs from nature and a world filled with fear and pain but beauty and wonder too. Collecting birds, animals, trees and people together, The Heeding is a profound meditation to a time no-one will forget. At its heart, this is a book that helps us look again, to heed: to be attentive to this world we share and this history we're living through, to be aware of how valuable and fragile we are, to grieve what's lost and to hope for a better and brighter tomorrow.