Can one ever have too many poetry books? you might ask.
My poetry bookshelf currently houses:
- around 230 single-author collections, New & Selecteds and pamphlets (I gave up counting)
- over 50 anthologies
- a down-sized selection of magazines (a short publishing history)
- numerous On Writing books
The above are survivors of my best efforts at down-sizing my preciouses prior to last October’s house-into-bungalow move. I’ve read almost all of them from cover to cover at least once. On odd occasions I ask myself how many of these I’ll realistically re-read dip into in future. Repeated attempts to curb my poetry book-purchasing are short-lived.
And that TBR pile? It’s not doing too badly:
- two full collections
- two anthologies
- five magazines (am still waaay behind on poetry mag-reading)
- one On Writing book
Last Saturday, I went to a reading and discussion of poems from Helen Dunmore’s Costa Book Award-winning ‘Inside the Wave’ hosted by members of the Nottingham Poetry Stanza as part of States of Independence (an annual Independent Press Day held at DMU, Leicester). Having admonished myself for not having purchased and read the collection in advance, I picked up a copy at the Five Leaves Press stand just beforehand. Six of the poems were read and discussed. Dunmore’s collection never made it onto my TBR pile. It demanded cover-to-cover reading; I re-read some poems, annotated themes and recurring images, and reflected on the pragmatism (and the poignancy) in this, Dunmore’s final collection. I’ve copied some lines into my notebook; from ‘My Life’s Stem was Cut’:
But why not keep flowering
As long as I can
From my cut stem?
and, from ‘Hold Out Your Arms,’ the final poem added to the second impression of the book, in which the poet greets Death like a mother:
As you brush back my hair
– Which could do with a comb
But never mind –
‘We’re nearly there.’
Yesterday, on looking through my TBRs for a Next Read, what did I discover?
My first purchase has been probably been sitting pretty since I purchased it on publication (and my memory is poorer than I thought).
So, is anyone interested in a poetry giveaway (or a book swap)? (UK postage, preferably). Let me know in the comments box below (or via social media, if that’s easier for non-Wordpress users). If I’m inundated with takers, I’ll put names in a hat 🙂