Candlestick Press pamphlet reviews

Candlestick Press, who publish gorgeous poetry pamphlets usually containing 10 or 12 poems around a central theme very kindly sent me their latest 3 pamphlets to review.

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Their pamphlets are designed to be sent as a gift card for all manner of occasions. They come with an envelope, a bookmark and a sticky label to seal the flap with, look!

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The pamphlets are beautifully designed and printed and make such an original change from a plain card. Here is a bit more about the three they sent me.


Ten Poems about Friendship

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Of the Ten poems in this pamphlet my favourites were:

  • The Pleasures of Friendship by Stevie Smith (1902 – 1971) so short but just says it all really.
  • Friends by Polly Clark, about an episode of the TV series Friends that is her favourite, so original.
  • Inventory by Lorraine Mariner, All of us of Facebook users will identify with this and its amazing how many different types of friendship there really are.
  • Friends by Alden Nowlan (1933 – 1983) Friends can be so vital in combatting loneliness, I found this very moving.
  • Fiere in the Middle by Jackie Kay, Friends being there for each other in times of need, beautiful words!
  • Friendship and Illness by May Sarton (1912 – 1995) we need friends all the time but when we are feeling unwell they can be the best medicine.
  • Friendship by Elizabeth Jennings (1926 – 2001) The true meaning of friendship, give and take and always being there.

I hadnt heard of most of these poets so its great to have discovered them and their beautiful words.


The Twelve Poems of Christmas

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Now I really love everything about Christmas so this was such a treat, though having said that I didnt like half as many poems in this one, however there are poems here to suit everyone. Here are my favourites:

  • The Christmas Robin by Robert Graves (1895 – 1985) His descriptions of the countryside are always so evocative
  • How I’ll Decorate My Tree by Liz Lochhead, This is so funny and my favourite poem, it speaks to all of us at some time or other and her forced rhyming is just glorious.

 


The Wood in Winter by John Lewis-Stempel

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This is an unusual pamphlet in that its mainly just one short story rather than a collection of poems. Its written by John Lewis-Stempel who won the Thwaites Wainwright prize with his beautiful book, Meadowlands in 2014.

It also has 2 poems: Seven Words for Winter by Nancy Campbell and Winter Heart by Jackie Kay both of which are wonderful.

The Wood in Winter is such a lovely story, detailing a walk through some woods on land that the author once used to own. His descriptions of a cold, snowy day slowly turning to dusk is a treat to read. I felt I was there with him every step of the way, watching the birds, crunching through the snow and shivering with the cold.

People claim they enjoy winter, but what they actually mean is they enjoy winter as a livener, a quick tease of the elements before resorting to their central heating. For anyone working outdoors, winter hurts.

I fear the quote above is way too accurate.

The cover is beautifully designed by Angela Harding


A huge thank you to the lovely folk at Candlestick Press for these. I have plans for the giving of them all.

Why I said YES YES to poetry

Sorry about the title of this post, its a bit punny but what the heck eh?

With my newly rediscovered love of poetry i’ve been watching a lot of booktuber videos for good recommendations. One of them who give THE best advice on poetry is of course Jen Campbell   @aeroplanegirl on Twitter.

I recently saw her talking about a book called Some Planet by John Montara (see pic below)

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This book sounded so damn amazing I had to investigate the publisher and get me a copy. I cheekily asked the publisher if they would send me a book for review even though they are many, many miles away in Portland, Oregon, USA!

And guess what? they said yes they would but it wasnt just one book they sent me! take a look at this bundle!

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They sent me 5 books of poetry and a couple of postcards with poems on advertising more of the collections they publish.

I was bowled over by this generosity and so i’m bigging them up to poetry loving folk in the UK and around the world.

Here is a closer look at the books

I will review them at a later date but for now just take a look at how fab they all are.

If you are into modern poetry then do go check out YES YES Books

 

Review: Ten War Poems edited by Andrew Motion

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I saw this on a friends Twitter feed and immediately contacted Candlestick Press to see if they had a spare copy, and they very kindly sent me one.

It is a small poetry pamphlet which is designed to be something you could send as a card to someone. It comes with an envelope for posting and a stylish bookmark too. What a lovely and very original idea.

The Ten poems have been chosen by Andrew Motion, one of which, The Gardener has been written by him.

Initially I thought it was all poems about World War 1, but its about war in general from any time period or battle. It was good to expand my reading in this way as i tend to stick to WW1 or WW2 in poetry.

I’m not a fan of all the poems, that will happen as poetry is such a personal choice. But three of them really stood out for me.


The Send-Off by Wilfred Owen is such a haunting poem about men going off to war, there is a lot of bitterness I feel in his words about how soldiers were treated.

“Shall they return to beatings of great bells

In wild train-loads?

A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,

May creep back, silent, to still village wells

Up half-known roads.”


The Gardener by Andrew Motion is a very moving poem and cleverly written and set out on the page. Its from a much more recent conflict in Kabul and makes for very sombre reading.

“We spent

many hours kneeling together in the garden

so many hours

Mark

he liked to lend a hand

watching Gardener’s World

building compost heaps

or the brick path with the cherry tree

that grows over it now       the white cherry

where i thought        I mustn’t cry

I must behave

as if he’s coming back”


But my favourite of all of them simply because it is from such an unusual point of view is The Fly by Miroslav Holub

“She sat on a willow-trunk

watching

part of the battle of Crecy,

the shouts,

the gasps,

the groans,

the trampling and the tumbling.

During the fourteenth charge

of the French cavalry

she mated

with a brown-eyed male fly

from Vadincourt.”


Its a lovely little booklet and great for introducing poetry to people who may be put off by a larger collection.

Thanks again to Candlestick Press for sending me this to review.

Let me know a favourite poem of yours?

How I found poetry again

35 or more years ago I discovered and fell in love with poetry. I was a young teenager and the television adaptation of Testament of Youth came on the box. I had not heard of the book before but I just fell in love with Vera Brittain’s story and began reading more about World War One and the incredibly moving and haunting poetry it begat.

I read Owen, Sassoon and others in a compilation but the first book I bought was Rupert Brooke’s collected works. I just adored his simple but very lyrical style.

I moved onto A.E. Housman’s, A Shropshire Lad and was blown away by his descriptive writing.

I tried out the Romantics like Keats, Shelley and Wordsworth but found them a bit too flowery for my taste.

I read and enjoyed poetry for a good many years but then life took over in other ways and I just lost interest but….

Since following Jen Campbell’s You Tube channel and especially her ‘Where to begin with reading poetry’ I have come full circle and am back in love with it all over again. This time though I’m not reading the classics but new poetry, some not published in actually book form yet but in magazines like The Rialto.

I’ve discovered that I love free form poetry and not the rhyming kind I used to read. I love the way that the poets are able to express themselves without having to spend ages finding words that rhyme. Its like flash fiction but more lyrical.

So i’ve begun buying some bits and here is my collection so far.

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I have the most recent edition of The Rialto in the background with the striking orange, yellow and black cover.

The Best of British Poetry 2015

The Forward book of Poetry 2016

The Melancholy of Mechagirl by Catherynne M. Valente

Ten War Poems edited by Andrew Motion

Why God is a Woman by Nin Andrews

What we Buried by Caitlyn Siehl

No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay

I will be reviewing them over the course of the next month or so and I cant wait to read them all.

I want to share some snippets that I absoloutely love from Sarah’s, Nin’s and Caitlyn’s poetry


This is an excerpt from ‘A Letter to Love’ by Caitlyn Siehl

The first poem I wrote that wasn’t about you

was in all capital letters,

like it was trying to compensate

for your absence

What an opening line!


This is from ‘The First Poem in the Imaginary Book’ by Sarak Kay

It it were me, when the book arrives,

I would immediately start scanning

pages to find any trace of me.

My name, references to my body,

my secrets, moments we shared.

I would pretend to be horrified if I

found evidence of myself, but really

I would pray to find even a single

mention.


And last but not least a line or two from Nin Andrew’s very clever book ‘Why God is a Woman’

On the Island where I come from

women rule. They run the country, control the wealth, and decide who

will do what, why, and when. At the end of the day, when the sun sinks

into the sea, the women leave their offices behind and go out on the

town to enjoy what is known as the women’s hour.


I want to know so much more about poetry and how its written like it is, and I reckon the only way to do that is to read, read, read. I have even begun writing my own poetry though its early days.

I hope you find some of these poems to your liking. Tell me your favourite poems or favourite poets even.

5 poems to help you celebrate National Poetry Day

I love poetry, and have done so for almost 40 years now. I don’t read much of it nowadays sadly, time seems to get in the way of such fun and any reading i do is usually confined to novels so I felt a blog post celebrating poetry on this day was in order.

National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart, and has engaged millions of people across the country reading, writing and listening to poetry.

It celebrates its 21st year this year.

I’ve chosen 5 poems by very varied poets ranging from the 19th century to the present day. All of these are by poets i hold dear. I’ve cut a few of them down and just used a couple of my favourite verses. Some are fairly obvious choices but I hope you enjoy them all and it may make you want to read more by them.

1. Holyday by Emily Bronte
A LITTLE while, a little while,
The noisy crowd are barred away;
And I can sing and I can smile
A little while I’ve holyday!
Where wilt thou go, my harrased heart?
Full many a land invites thee now;
And places near and far apart
Have rest for thee, my weary brow.
There is a spot ‘mid barren hills
Where winter howls and driving rain,
But if the weary tempest chills
There is a light that warms again.
The house is old, the trees are bare,
And moonless bends the misty dome,
But what on earth is half so dear,
So longed for as the hearth of home?
The mute bird sitting on the stone,
The dank moss dripping from the wall,
The garden walk with weeds o’ergrown,
I love them–how I love them all!
Yes, as I mused, the naked room,
The flickering firelight died away,
And from the midst of cheerless gloom
I passed to bright, unclouded day–
A little and a lone green lane
That opened on a common wide;
A distant, dreary, dim blue chain
Of mountains circling every side;
A heaven so clear, an earth so calm,
So sweet, so soft, so hushed an air
And, deepening still the dream-like charm,
Wild moor-sheep feeding everywhere–
That was the scene; I knew it well,
I knew the path-ways far and near
That, winding o’er each billowy swell,
Marked out the tracks of wandering deer.
Could I have lingered but an hour
It well had paid a week of toil,
But truth has banished fancy’s power;
I hear my dungeon bars recoil–
Even as I stood with raptured eye,
Absorbed in bliss, so deep and dear,
My hour of rest had fleeted by
And given me back to weary care.
Emily Brontë
 
2.  The Old Vicarage, Grantchester by Rupert Brooke
Ah God! to see the branches stir
Across the moon at Grantchester!
To smell the thrilling-sweet and rotten
Unforgettable, unforgotten
River-smell, and hear the breeze
Sobbing in the little trees.
Say, do the elm-clumps greatly stand
Still guardians of that holy land?
The chestnuts shade, in reverend dream,
The yet unacademic stream?
Is dawn a secret shy and cold
Anadyomene, silver-gold?
And sunset still a golden sea
From Haslingfield to Madingley?
And after, ere the night is born,
Do hares come out about the corn?
Oh, is the water sweet and cool,
Gentle and brown, above the pool?
And laughs the immortal river still
Under the mill, under the mill?
Say, is there Beauty yet to find?
And Certainty? and Quiet kind?
Deep meadows yet, for to forget
The lies, and truths, and pain? . . . oh! yet
Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?
Rupert Brooke
3. A Shropshire Lad by A E Housman
II

          Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
          Is hung with bloom along the bough,
          And stands about the woodland ride
          Wearing white for Eastertide.

          Now, of my threescore years and ten,
          Twenty will not come again,
          And take from seventy springs a score,
          It only leaves me fifty more.

          And since to look at things in bloom
          Fifty springs are little room,
          About the woodlands I will go
          To see the cherry hung with snow.


4. 2 poems by Pam Ayres (they are only short ones)

The Wildlife Garden

The wildlife in our garden,
It fills me with delight,
The Sparrowhawk attacks by day,
The muntjac comes by night,
The fox is round the dustbins,
The rats they are not pretty,
The squirrel's on the peanuts
And i'm moving to the city.

Over-Penguinisation 

There once was an iceberg set in the cold seas,
And penguins lived on it in two's and in three's,
The iceberg emitted occasional creaks,
And the penguins they waddled with smiles on their beaks.

But soon other penguins arrived at the rock,
Creating a vast insupportable flock,
The food was exhausted, the filthy rock stank,
"Sod this for a lark!" said the iceberg,
And sank.




5. Q by Roger McGough

I join the queue
We move up nicely.

I ask the lady in front
What are we queuing for.
‘To join another queue,’
She explains.

‘How pointless,’ I say,
‘I’m leaving.’ She points
To another long queue.
‘Then you must get in line.’

I join the queue.
We move up nicely.

I hope you enjoy reading and maybe writing lots of poetry today.