Saturday, 27 February 2016

poetical: 6 poets well worth checking out.

Louise Gluck

Louise Gluck is an American poet who I cannot believe I hadn't heard of before a friend shared one of her poems with me the other day. You can find her poem, Fable, here, and if you're anything like me, you'll be thinking 'yes, yes, I know where this goes, until she pulls the carpet out from under your feet' - awesome and so interesting.

Andrew McMillan

Mr McMillan has been winning a lot of awards lately after the release, in 2015, of his first book of poetry, Physical. There's a list of all the good things that are happening in his career on his website, and his poetry is astounding. You can find Finally here (and do read it because it stays with you), and for a real treat check out this Guardian Books Podcast wherein you can hear Andrew talk about and read his own work in his beautiful South Yorkshire accent (after around 12 minutes).

Nordahl Grieg

Nordhal Grieg was a controversial Norwegian poet who is perhaps most famous for a poem I'm currently obsessed with - Til Ungdommen, a pacifist poem written in 1936 - I love this version (with handy English subtitles) which is sung by 'elfgirl93' to the tune composed for the poem by Otto Mortensen in 1951.

The poem has an obvious anti-war message, but it's also been used more recently in the aftermath of the terrible killings carried out by Anders Breivik. People young and old chose to sing the song when they came together carrying candles and roses to remember the dead shot down by Breivik. I love that the poem starts with a call to action, and then reminds us that our belief in humanity is both our sword and our shield. The best translation I've found is done by Robert Powell, and you can find it here (it's a pdf).Grieg died in his 41st year, in 1943. A war correspondent, he was in a Lancaster bomber which was shot down.

Brian Bilston

Brian won last year's Great British Write Off, which I must admit I'd never heard of until someone shared his winning entry on Facebook (At the Intersection). You'll find it here. It's a fascinating ven-diagram poem about a man and woman's take on an outing. Not what one might think of as poetry initially, but really interesting.

Sara (Mum Turned Mom)

Sara is a blogger who tends to write and share a poem a week for her 'The Prompt' linky. One of my favourites is the one she wrote for the prompt 'grow'. I love the gentle wise woman beauty of it, and you can read it here.

Benjamin Zephaniah

I've got to admit that I have problems with reading non-standard English. I love the writing of Iain (M) Banks but could not read Feersum Enjun because the non-standard English drove my inner pedant to distraction. And I must admit I find Benjamin Zephaniah's non-standard English an irritant when I start reading his work, but I think in the end it lends a genuine performative beauty to his work, which is written to be read aloud. I've got two examples of Benjamin's work to share with you, which I love. The first is about Britain, and sums up my feelings about Britain and immigration beautifully. You'll find it here. The second is a glorious call for ecological consideration, which you'll find here.

The poets I choose to share with you here are ones that I've come across day-to-day, and it's only when I'm compiling posts like this that I realise that so many of them are men! It is not the case that women are under-represented in poetry, rather, their work is under-represented in the coverage poetry receives. This isn't just a poetry issue of course, it's across the board, but it's important to state the issue, and look harder. Too often women's work isn't taken seriously, by agents, by publishers, and even by readers. Women still hide behind men's names to get their work read, and that's a terrible state of affairs. I promise to keep looking. Next time I share some poets worth checking out I hope to have a more balanced selection.