Wednesday, 14 August 2019

Poetry plus

A quick round-up of the very best of my recent discoveries, in no particular order (some tweeted about previously):

Don't Read Poetry - A Book About How to Read Poems - Stephanie Burt (Basic Books)
A really readable approach to what poems can mean for different people at different times - and it has some brilliant examples.

Spotting Capybaras in the Work of Marc Chagall - Simon Williams (Indigo Dreams Publishing)
A little gem - clever, funny - an absolute joy.
'I see you want to call attention.
Should you not do that with the poems?
You could put a crocodile in the last line.'

Giraffe - Bryony Littlefair (Seren)
Funny, desperately moving - stunningly good.
'When you feel better, you will not always be happy, but when happiness does come, it will be long-legged, sun-dappled: a giraffe.'

Pamper me to Hell and Back - Hera Lindsay Bird (Smith/Doorstep)
Because it's just brilliant.
'A poem should never be a tourniquet
You have to let the blood go where it wants'

Hugo Williams - I Knew The Bride (Faber & Faber)
Dry humour and subtle anguish.The sequence of poems 'From the Dialysis Ward' is particularly memorable and moving.

Common People - An Anthology of Working-class Writers -  ed Kit de Waal (Unbound)
Writing at its best. Helped me to reconnect with my childhood and all the questions and doubts I've had since. 'Yes, it's tough, we've had enough. And we are coming.'

A magazine that I've just discovered that I think is well worth a look is Confluence - A Literary Magazine from Wordsmithery. Wonderful poetry, prose and illustration.

I also wanted to mention Bird Therapy - Joe Harkness (Unbound). This is an honest account of how one man found a way towards mental wellbeing through birdwatching. It seems to be selling well and has endorsements from respected people and organisations. There is an ironic twist though: the pressures of publicity and some responses to his book, through Twitter, etc, have not helped his mental health, even though there is a huge amount of support for him and the book. 

Even when we feel at our best, we are still vulnerable. Poetry can help. So can birdwatching. Just be wary of social media.



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