For some people, just hearing the word ‘poetry’ is enough to make them cringe or groan or roll their eyes, perhaps recalling endless GCSE English lessons slaving over poems that seemed to be about something simple – say, a pair of brown curtains – but that your teacher insisted was actually about the poet’s regret over not having a better relationship with their father. Poetry can often seem inaccessible or simply uninteresting. Occasionally, those who write poetry or write and speak about poetry can come across a little…snobbish. As if it is something elite that only a certain kind of person has the right or the ability to enjoy. This idea, of course, is complete rubbish.
I am a great lover of poetry. I find it beautiful for it’s variety and its power. I love that you can never quite pin down exactly what poetry is because it can look so many different ways. I love both reading and writing poetry and it is probably the form of writing that sits most naturally with me. I even wrote a whole thing for ECBC Manchester on the power of poetry and how we can tap into it.
When it comes to reading poetry, it can be tricky to know where to start. I would say that starting with an anthology of some kind is probably a good way to go, as it will give you a broader range of styles and themes than picking up a collection by a single poet (although, if you did want to try a single poet you could always pick up my debut collection and start there… :-P). I can’t think of a better anthology to recommend than She Is Fierce.
This awesome collection of poetry curated by Ana Sampson is so empowering and inspiring. It is one of the books that helped me believe in my own work enough to publish it. It is a stunning collection of 150 brave and beautiful poems by women. Ranging from classic pieces by well-loved poets to innovative and bold modern voices the collection captures all the beauty and chaos and joy and pain of life. The voices of all these fabulous women – speaking truth and power, liberation and heartache – nurtured faith that my own voice might be worth hearing too.
I was reminded of classics I had forgotten I loved and found some new, under-appreciated gems that I know I will return to again and again. The anthology is divided into the following sections:
Roots and Growing Up
Freedom, Mindfulness and Joy
Fashion, society and body image
Protest, courage and resistance
There is something in this collection for every moment, every phase of life. Something for everyone.
Thank you, Ana, for pulling together such a treasure trove of words. And thank you to the wonderful poets who penned them.
Are you a poetry lover? Which poets or collections are your favourite?