Friday, September 17, 2010

You MUST read this book...

Nik started a great book recommendation meme yesterday, and Benjamin Judge joined in. AND BOTH RECOMMENDED ME! Thanks guys.

And to add my pennyworth, here are five poetry books I've read and loved this summer:

1. Furniture, by Lorraine Mariner. I came across Lorraine's work first when she read last during a packed Oxfam reading. Packed with readers, that is, and I'd heard some good things but to be honest I was a bit jaded by the time Lorraine stood up. Not for long though. The minute she started a poem about Stanley, an imaginary boyfriend, who has to go because 'nothing in our relationship has ever surprised me', she had charmed everyone in that room. I rushed to buy her book after the reading but she had already sold out. Even if it wasn't for the fantastic series of poems in the narrative voice of 'Jessica Elton', this collection would still be on my favourite shelves.

2. I wrote about Simon Armitage's Seeing Stars here and I have been coming back to it again and again this summer in admiration and yes, envy.

3. Human Chain by Seamus Heaney is my newest acquisition but I've already read it three times. A lot of the poems are dedicated 'i.m' but the whole book feels 'alive and living' in the best ways. I am sure there are a lot of references here I'm missing, but the joy of it is that it makes me want to read more, rather than just making me feel stupid. And in the meantime, the words are so beautiful I am enjoying just tasting them. In fact, I could almost lick every page of this book like 'Lick the Pencil':

'Lick the pencil' we might have called him
So quick was he to wet the lead, so deft
His hand-to-mouth and tongue-flirt round the stub.

4. Source, by Mark Doty is a good accompaniment to Human Chain, in that both seem to focus on what is left of the human being when the material elements are stripped away. Where is our place in the world? And how do we learn to see things through our own eyes rather than other people's? There is a lovely 'Letter to Walt Whitman' here that I read twice before I realised I was holding my breath each time. And then I raced to the page myself, wanting to write as directly as Mark Doty does here.

5. Not a poetry book but a book for poets that I have come to very late, Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers has made me look at nearly everything differently this Summer. The book describes Wabi-Sabi as 'a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete,' and is a practice rather than an end result. The tension it describes between the meanings of Wabi and Sabi is perhaps the most exciting one thing I've read for a long time.

And now I'm off to add a few of the books recommended on other blogs to my reading list. Good idea, Nik!

1 comment:

Kath said...

Great recommendations. I was trying not to spend on books this month but I've been hearing such wonderful things about Simon Armitage's Seeing Stars collection that I may have to make an exception. I love his poetry.