I was in Waterstones a few months ago and after my usual lengthy deliberations I made my way to the checkout. Then this book caught my eye.
First off, it has to have one of the most beautiful covers that I have seen. The colours, title and imagery seem to jump off the page. The look and feel of this book are a taste of the magic that lies within. Purchasing it must be the quickest decision that I have ever made with a new book buy.
Allie Esiri has achieved greatness here with her astute selection of poems. Far too often, poetry anthologies reach beyond the needs and understanding of the everyday reader. I still remember my own experiences of poetry during my teenage years where frustratingly a lot of high art poems were forced upon me and only went over my head. I was given these poems because they were supposed to be ‘classics’ but when I back at those experiences now I see that they were given to me out of context.
What Allie Esiri has done here is selected a mixture of poems that can be easily grounded into the everyday life. There are lots of fun poems here that play on words or ideas such as Edwin Morgan’s ‘The Loch Ness Monster’s Song’ or Kenn Nesbit’s ‘Xbox, xbox.’ They are poems linked to special days or historical events so they jump from their historical context straight into your imagination. Eleanor Farjeon’s ‘Pencil and Paint’ links well with the changing of the seasons as does Ted Hughes ‘Leaves.’
Poems such as ‘Lord Ullin’s Daughter’ and ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ tell stories that will stay with you. Then there is a mixture of all the old favourites from Shakespeare, Rudyard Kipling and Wilfred Owen to name but a few. The table of contents reads like a who’s who of distinguished poets but what Esiri does with aplomb is refrain from forcing them down our throat. She selects them to suit the mood and time of year that they are most appropriate for
This is not just a selection of the editors favourite poems or those poems that we ‘should know’ but instead it is an excellent guide that both informs and supplements life as we know it. Esiri’s choice of poem and poet is almost uncanny. For example, I read John Jarmain’s ‘El Alamein’ literally days before I happened to view the war memorial at Stonehaven in East Scotland and this definitely enhanced my experience.
This is a book that shows how poetry should be both enjoyed and loved. It shows how poetry should be shared and used for inspiration. Already I have used this book to create simple art and creative writing projects of my own. This book can be read as a good night story or a late night reflection.
I would recommend that you buy one copy for yourself and one for a friend. This anthology is pure gold.
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