Archive for August, 2016

The Best Poetry Anthologies Every Poetry Fan Should Own

August 31, 2016

Interesting Literature

Five of the best collections of English poetry

What are the best English poetry anthologies? And how would one define ‘best’? The answer, of course, is that it’s always going to be subjective to a point. But it’s worth having a go at picking the greatest anthologies from which the poetry fan can choose. The poetry anthology is a great way not only of revisiting old favourites, but of discovering new poets. In this post, we’ve turned our attention to a kind of book that provides a highly valuable service for the poetry-lover. Many of these books can be purchased for the equivalent of the cost of lunch (depending on where you lunch, of course), or, at most, set back the book-buyer no more than a night out in the local pub would. And a volume of poetry can provide a lifetime of pleasure!

The Oxford Book of English Verse

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A Short Analysis of Philip Larkin’s ‘Afternoons’

August 30, 2016

Interesting Literature

A summary of a great Larkin poem

‘Afternoons’, like a number of Philip Larkin’s other poems, treats the theme of the passing of youth and the setting-in of middle age. But rather than focusing on his own middle age (Larkin was in his mid-thirties when he wrote the poem, in 1959), Larkin examines the lives of others, analysing the existence of a group of young mothers he observes at the local recreation ground. You can read ‘Afternoons’ here.

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Barry Fentiman

August 27, 2016

Writers Against Prejudice

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For you there is only this moment, this thing that you do right now,
This breath, this opinion you blow so carelessly,
I see you on the train advertising your newspaper, tells it like it is mate,
The headline, that tosses lit matches and walks away,
If I could make this fire you play with real, I would do it,
And by those burns you shall be seen.

You talk of our history, our kind, the way things were 20 years past,
But it is yours and yours alone, my little Islander,
It is a drop of rain, it came, it went, no more than that,
If I could turn your words to shit so that you would choke on them,
And feel its taste, the stink never fading, I would do it,
And by its taint you shall be known.

You…

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The back of an envelope thing

August 25, 2016

Anthony Wilson

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‘An amazing stillness this morning. A sense of impending exhaustion in the air. There was one robin as I went for milk. Did you notice it?’

‘It’s hardly Katherine Mansfield,’ the book says. ‘I must have been asleep.’

‘That note of fragility. You catch it in April, too, just as the days start to believe that they’re lengthening, that sense of change, could be colder, could be warmer, and that there is nothing you can do about it.’

‘It sounds like you’re on a roll,’ the book says. ‘Have you been writing again?’

‘Depends what you mean by writing. But a line did plop into my head from nowhere the other day, yes. I’d been on the motorway for about eight hours, so you could say conditions were perfect. Which is more than I can say for my back.’

‘Anything I need to know about?’ the book says.

‘I’ll let…

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The Rialto

August 24, 2016

Roy Marshall

I don’t keep ‘rejection’ slips, or notes accompanying returned poems, but I do keep acceptances and records of where I sent things.  The Rialto, along with The North, was one of the poetry magazines I discovered in a really good bookshop towards the end of the first decade of the new millennium.

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I was blown away by the quality of these publications, both in terms of design and production values, and I was enthralled  by the variety and quality of the work within them. I sent both of these magazines some poems in 2009, the first work I’d ever sent anywhere, and the Rialto took one and published it. I remember the letter from the editor, Michael Mackmin saying he would like to take a poem, along with an apology for the delay in responding. I also remember the  arrival of a contributors copy and twenty pound note.  Since then…

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This divine breath, by Johann Herder

August 20, 2016

Anthony Wilson

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A breath of our mouth
Becomes the portrait of the world,
The type of our thoughts
And our feelings
In the other’s soul.

On a bit of moving air
Depends everything human
That men on earth
Have ever thought, willed, done,
And ever will do;

For we would all still be roaming
In the forests if this divine breath
Had not blown around us,
And did not hover
On our lips like a magic tone.

Johann Herder, quoted by Heidegger, in Calm Things By Shawna Lemay(p. 44)


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Other objects, by Primo Levi

August 18, 2016

Anthony Wilson

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Consider what value,
What meaning

Is enclosed even
In the smallest

Of our daily habits,
In the hundred possessions

Which even the poorest
Beggar owns:

A handkerchief,
An old letter,

The photo
Of a cherished person.

These things
Are part of us,

Almost like limbs
Of our body;

Nor is it conceivable
That we can be deprived

Of them in our world,
For we immediately find others

To substitute the old ones,
Other objects

Which are ours
In their personification

And evocation
Of our memories.

Primo Levi, from If This Is a Man

Some found poems

On Noticing

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Two poems by Gill McEvoy

August 9, 2016

How we spend our days, by Annie Dillard

August 8, 2016

Anthony Wilson

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How we spend our days
is, of course,
how we spend our lives.

What we do with this hour,
and that one,
is what we are doing.

A schedule
defends from chaos
and whim.

It is a net
for catching days.
It is a scaffolding

on which a worker
can stand
and labor with both hands

at sections of time.
A schedule is a mock-up
of reason and order –

willed, faked,
and so brought into being;
it is a peace and a haven

set into the wreck of time;
it is a lifeboat
on which you find yourself,

decades later,
still living.
Each day is the same,

so you remember
the series afterward
as a blurred and powerful pattern.

Annie Dillard, from The Writing Life (p.32)

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Lifesaving poems of summer

August 7, 2016

Anthony Wilson

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Now that we might finally be getting one, I found myself wondering recently how many of my Lifesaving Poems choices were about the summer. (I should say I’m generally against this kind of reductionist thinking: any good poem is always about more than it is about. But it is my blog and I make the rules. So humour me).

As I ploughed through the choices I have written about so far themes began to emerge. There is driving (Night Drive, A Private Life); eating and drinking outdoors (The Picnic; Jet; K563; Eating Outside); and of course sport (To My Heart at the Close of Day; Nightwatchman; Deep Third Man).

But most of all it struck me how many of the poems are about being alone, even when the speaker is in company (Results; Eating Outside; Aunt Julia; Coming Home; This morning was cold; K563). The more I read these poems…

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