Reading poetry is exactly the same as reading anything. You can’t just write off a whole genre because of your own fixed opinions. Instead, you have to search for what YOU like.
This approach has opened up a whole new world of reading to me and one that is very worthwhile. Poetry is like a fine wine that needs to be sipped slowly. Each word and line is packed full of meaning and my interpretation might not be the same as yours. That is the beauty of it.
Here are four great poetry books with a twist that I have read recently. Each of these books tell a story as you make your way through the collection of poems. If you are looking for a starting point into the genre, this could be it.
Brand New Ancients (Kate Temptest)
Sixty four pages of excellence, check this out!!! Back in 2013, Kate Temptest won a Ted Hughes Prize with this collection. In some ways it is nearly more short story than verse. Temptest is a renowned performance poet and rapper and her performance of Brand New Ancients is spectacular. But, I would recommend that you read this book to take it in fully. If you can’t wait until then, here’s a link to the first part of her performance. Simply. Amazing.
Deirdre Of The Sorrows (Kenneth Steven)
This was one of my favourite reads last year. I love reimaginings of classic myths because they reconnect with that fireside storytelling tradition of old. In this book, Kenneth Steven retells the tragic love tale of Diarmuid and Gráinne. The tale oozes with Celtic magic as the ill fated couple flee Ireland to live together on a Scottish island. If you strip this back, it is a story about love and running from the past. The poet’s lyrical verse makes it one that you will not forget anytime soon. A perfect compliment to Brand New Ancients as I reflect upon them now!
Summer With Monika (Roger McGough)
Published 40 years ago, this sequence of poems charts the progress of a love affair from the passionate honeymoon with the milk bottles turning to cheese on the doorstep, through the stage of quarrels, jealousy, recriminations and boredom, to the point where love is as nice as a cup of tea in bed.
I really enjoyed this simple forty three page journey into a single summer of love. I could not help picturing Monica from friends as I read it though!! The illustrations really added to the reading experience too.
Station Island (Seamus Heaney)
I have a love-hate affair with Seamus Heaney. This is not a collection for the faint-hearted but is still worth a look if you want to go deep down into the rabbit hole that is poetry. The poems are ‘set on an island that has been a site of pilgrimage in Ireland for over a thousand years. Heaney’s pilgrim is on an inner journey and proceeds through a series of dream encounters which lead him back into the world that formed him, and then forward to face the crises of the present.’ The third group of poems in the collection deal with the mythological King Sweeney Of Ulster. I read this book because I too hope to someday pay a visit to the Lough Derg pilgrimage site.