Just taking a little time away from finishing my MA in Writing Poetry to mention my local book group. Like many book groups we mostly read novels but since last October some of the group have joined me in reading a poetry book about every other month. I’m not sure why other book groups don’t do this or perhaps they do and it was just my local group that preferred to stick to novels.
We began last October with Kim Moore’s The Art of Falling, which I’d picked because I wanted to read it properly myself and I thought the group would like the poems. It was good to be proved correct.
In January we considered Tara Bergin’s The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx, a book which I had loved and very much wanted to share. The interesting thing about reading as a group is how much more you notice or pick up from other people – oh look the cover has the symbol of the Ouija board. And the last line of the title poem ‘Nearly all of this is true’, does that mean that some of the preceding poem is made-up and if so how much is invented etc?
With both poets we were able to watch them reading and discussing their poetry on youtube, especially with Tar Bergin as she was short-listed for the T.S. Eliot prize.
This was a long way from those deadly English lessons at school which so often seem to put people off reading poetry in particular for life. My un-written rules for the group include chosing living poets and also that they should be writing poetry which you could grasp within having studied English. At school I deliberately chose not to take English A level as I could not bear the thought of dissecting writers to death (even the long-dead ones). We had a little break after January as I didn’t manage to chose a book in time for March and we resumed in May with Alice Oswald’s Falling Awake. This took us into more challenging territory as it concludes with a dramatic monologue called “Tithonus: 46 Minutes in the Life of the Dawn” which provoked much debate.
In July we read Jacqui Sapha’s Sonnets inspired by Lee Miller, which received universal acclaim. It tells Lee Miller’s story although not in chronological order and who could fail to be captured by the way in which the poems and Miller’s photographs marry together.
Our next book with be The Perseverance by Raymond Antrobus. It has been on my ‘wish-list’ for a while and I’m looking forward to the discussions in September.