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


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.

A virtual visit to Anne Frank’s house

When a good friend of mine said she would be visiting Amsterdam last week and in particular The Anne Frank museum I asked, nay I pleaded with her to get me a guidebook or leaflet from there as The Diary of A Young Girl written by Anne Frank is such a special book and i knew i’d probably never get the chance to visit myself.

This is what she came back with for me:

A gorgeous, pocket sized hardback guidebook full of information, photos, diagrams and history, a booklet with maps to help you get the most from the visit and a bookmark. And all in a paper bag with the Anne Frank huis logo on. (Yes, i can hear your amazement at my love for a paper bag)

This is a cut-a-way diagram of the house and business which is in a fold-out at the front of the book. The detail is amazing. Its like a dolls house and i really love the little ladders they had to use. It must have been so hard to be quiet with them creaking all the time.

The image of the bookcase which hid the door to the hiding place has to be the most iconic image in my mind. My friend said it was really surreal to be climbing the stairs behind it and also that nobody spoke, at all! the whole way round the tour! isnt that something.

Reading about all this made me decide to buy a copy of The Diary. I used to have one years back but sadly it got lost somehow. So i rushed online and got me another copy

I hadnt realised that there is not just one edition of the Diary but many as Anne decided to ‘edit’ her original diary for future publication as asked for by the Dutch Government when the war was over. She wanted it to look more professional i guess. So there are many different editions around and this is a mixed version. I think the original ones are hard to find these days.

“Not being able to go outside upsets me more than i can say, and i’m terrified our hiding place will be discovered and that we’ll be shot. That, of course, is a fairly dismal prospect.

This rather prophetic paragraph was added as a comment on 28th September 1942 by Anne onto an existing entry dated Saturday 11th July 1942. Just over 72 years ago to the day.  Its such a fascinating document of the 20th century as well as a brilliant read.

Gill xx


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