Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label poetry. Show all posts

Saturday, 26 August 2023

How to enrich your life

How to Enjoy Poetry (Little Ways to Live a Big Life) I love libraries. Unlike the online world, they don't limit your horizons to something an algorithm suggests because you've taken an interest in it before. You can be looking for books about travelling in Europe, and before you get to the shelf, you see something far more interesting that you didn't even realise you wanted. Which is what happens to me today.

I have to vacate the apartment for a couple of hours, the weather looks like rain, so I think I'll go to the library. The catalogue is online and maybe the 910 shelves will be interesting. I see there might be some books on travel. That'll do.

Before I reach the relevant shelf, I'm scanning book spines and spot a slim, white, hardback. In red lettering it says 'How to Enjoy Poetry', written by the English comedian Frank Skinner. So I take it off the shelf, settle myself in one of the library's comfy chairs, and read it cover to cover. It took about an hour.

What a brilliant book. It's Skinner's personal interpretation of a poem called 'Pad, pad' by Stevie Smith, who I'd never heard of before today. The poem is short, just nine lines, two stanzas, and somewhat tragicomic. Just the sort of thing I like.

Skinner explains that you cannot read a poem just once and hope to understand it. You need to read again, and again, and again. Think about how the words create rhythms, what images are conjured up in your mind, and with each reading you'll discover something new in it.

To conclude, Skinner exhorts us to "Read more poetry. I honestly believe it will change your life as it continues to change mine." I'd like to add to that, visit your library more often, it may not change your life, but it'll certainly enrich it.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Vimto, Gonks, and Wayfinders. I remember them

Mean Time I opened Mean Time, Carol Ann Duffy's 1993 collection of poetry, and poured myself a glass of wine. My cheeks started to glow, my head became lighter, my shoulders dropped, and everything in the world was fine. I began to feel sentimental at the thought of happy times past. Was it the wine or the poetry?

Nostalgia suffuses Mean Time, especially the first poem in the collection, The Captain of the 1964 Top of the Form Team. It speaks directly to baby boomers, those who were at school in the 60s and 70s. The references tap on your heart with a hoppety beat; pop music, general knowledge, Vimto, Gonks, and Tuf Wayfinders shoes. What a great start to a great collection.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

The democratisation of poetry

The Mersey Sound
Last year I reviewed John Cooper Clarke's Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt. I supposed that working class poets from the North West would mine the gritty reality of their industrial environment for their work rather than the romantic foppery of daffodils. How wrong I was. In The Mersey Sound, a collection first published in 1967, Adrian Henri has a poem called The New, Fast Automatic Daffodils(1).

Tuesday, 26 May 2020

Not a daffodil in sight

Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt I should state up front that this review will be somewhat biased. John Cooper Clarke, aka the Bard of Salford, was born and raised in the industrial northwest of England, like me. He's working class, like me. I saw him perform I Married a Monster from Outer Space in the early 80s, and in the early 90s a friend and I tried to get him to play a gig in London (his mum was his manager). You'd be right to say I'm a big fan of John Cooper Clarke and that I was inclined to like Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt before I read it.