Short and sweet poems and sonnets or lyrical and lengthy epics, sit back and relax while you enjoy the work of these wonderful wordsmiths.
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.
Poetry Inspired By Oliver Fantasy & Friendship is a collection of poems I’m sure a lot of us have felt we could have written at one point in our lives or another. Following the thread of an unrequited or, as it says in the synopsis, “perhaps unrecognised” love. This collection of poems cover meeting, getting to know and desiring a person, her muse, as well as including brief italicised comments about the feelings or events that inspired the poem above. These are written quite poetically themselves. This is an indulgent collection of poetry that explores both friendship and sensual/erotic desires for a person. I think that most people will be able to find something to relate to although there is certainly bravery and honesty here in publishing these poems for all to read. There is a part of me that wonders whether Oliver is a real person and how he feels about these poems and that fact that they have been published. The tone of the collection reminds me of Andrew Lincoln’s character in Love Actually. I think there’s an argument to be had for whether these poems are a romantic gesture or perhaps should remain as private thoughts, and I think it depends on whether these poems are inspired by one person, and what their reaction is. I’m undecided about where I fall on that spectrum of debate, but taking the poetry collection on its own, I admire the vulnerability required to share these private thoughts with us and I like how it creatively explores the themes of unrequited love. This is a poetry collection that is quick and easy to get through to form your own reaction.
**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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Assurances is an award-winning narrative poem, a story, a collection of words that funnels thought, tightens feelings, allows and encourages consideration. Assurances with its mix of verse and unversed passages is a poem about the threat of nuclear war, it is shocking, yet also quite beautiful as it looks from sky to earth, from bottom to top, from small to global. I started to read, and found myself reading out loud, feeling each word, the placement, the power. If you love poetry, you may have already come across J. O. Morgan, if you are uncertain, if you aren’t sure if poetry is for you then do step inside, let the words connect, allow yourself to explore. I adore the ‘as with’ sections, the daily, known, ordinary, opening up and allowing understanding of the military might, the standoff, the forever nature of nuclear weapons. Assurances flows, breaks, breathes, wounds, hurts, it is 48 pages of provocative and powerful, do read it.
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.