After my recent rant about bad poetry, here are three poetic titles I’ve read in the last week or so that I can heartily recommend. All are accessible, and offer rich, rewarding reading experiences that draw you in rather than leaving you confused and/or alienated.
See With Heart – Janey Colbourne. This is a small collection of poems and photographs reflecting a deep love affair with the natural world. Clarity, simplicity and soul – this is a lovesong to life, joyful and reflective in tone.
More about the book here – https://heartseer.wordpress.com/publications/
And do potter around Janey’s blog and read some of her writing – there’s a great deal of poetry there freely available.
Grief is the Thing with Feathers, by Max Porter
A bit mainstream by my usual book hipster standards, but at the same time, this book gives me hope for the publishing industry because it is so good, and so surprising. It is a novella, by length and narrative shape. Most of its ‘chapters’ sit on the page like poems and deploy language in poetic rather than prose ways. I expect if you’ve studied Ted Hughes, there are lots of literary eggs to enjoy, but if you barely know anything (me) it’s still perfectly readable. It is a deeply emotional book about loss and grief that directly challenges all contemporary notions of how fast we should get over it. Alongside this, is the thing with feathers, the shamanic presence of Crow, helping, hindering, participating… It’s an incredibly powerful piece and it does not swing round to reassuring us that all is well. Death hurts. Death continues to hurt. We learn to live, again. And again.
(Thanks to my father, who gave me this as a birthday present.)
More about the book here http://www.faber.co.uk/shop/fiction/9780571323760-grief-is-the-thing-with-feathers.html
The Immanent Moment, Kevan Manwaring
I probably do get book hipster points for this, because not only is it a poetry collection, but it may not be in print right now – I can only find second hand copies online. It is however an excellent poetry collection – doing all the things I want poetry to do. It’s passionate, intense, and emotionally engaging. the wordcraft is beautiful, but you don’t spend your time thinking ‘gosh that’s terribly clever’ – this is wordsmithing that does not draw attention to itself. Some of the content is deeply personal, but Kevan shares it in a way that creates feelings of empathy, shared humanity and intimacy, rather than casting the reader in an awkwardly voyeuristic role. Alongside this, there’s a love affair with the natural world, with poetry and the work of other poets, and with landscape. Specifically my landscape of Severn and Cotswold, which of course I find especially persuasive!
More on the author’s website – http://www.kevanmanwaring.co.uk/the-immanent-moment.html