One poetry book too many?

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?

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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 🙂

 

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New Year, New Reading, News

The Christmas decorations have been re-packed into their boxes; all that remains of the festive goodies is the remains of a tub of Celebrations; life is returning to (what passes for) normal.

In the post-Christmas decompression chamber that is January, I look forward to those ‘happy pills’ that pop into my inbox in the form of poetry e-newsletters and notifications with links to new reading.  This week’s include:

  • The POETRY magazine newsletter’s selection of poetry, prose and audio from the January issue.  I was enjoyed ‘The Hermits,’ a poem by Karen Solie.  Since first ‘discovering’ her work a few years ago, this Canadian poet has become a firm favourite of mine.
  • The Academy of American Poets (Poets.org) newsletter: a selection of poems for the New Year, by Kim Addonizio, Naomi Shihab Nye and others.
  • The SlowPo version of my favourite MOOC (ModPo) beginning the year with a series of mini courses, discussing individual poems by Bernadette Mayer and John Ashbery, with others to follow.
  • This morning’s weekly Brain Pickings, by the indefatigable Maria Popova, which I vow I’ll explore, rather than allowing it to sit in my inbox, opened but largely unread.
  • Josephine Corcoran’s latest blog post includes a heads-up to a growing list of poet bloggers who aim to blog weekly during 2018.  I look forward to discovering new favourites.

This morning, I received some good news about one of the poems I entered for a competition.  I can’t say any more about it, just yet.  Suffice to say, I’m chuffed!

I’ve been busy diminishing my poetry TBR pile, too.  After a couple of rather unsatisfying reads (we’re individuals, with our own particular tastes, right?), Peter Sansom’s The Last Place on Earth (Carcanet, 2006) restored my faith.  My current read, the  Forward Book of Poetry, 2018, is a gripping one.  I’ve already page-marked a few favourites, including Richard Georges’ ‘Oceans’ and Ocean Vuong’s ‘Notebook Fragments.’  Next up is Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica – I can’t wait!

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Happy New Year, and happy poetry reading! 🙂