Tag: poem

a touch of cold

You know that first smell of autumn? The first morning you leave the house and the air is different?—crisper, with that first whiff of deliciously decaying leaves? That’s one of my favourite moments in the year, and I’ve been looking for a poem which celebrates it. So far I haven’t found quite the thing—do let me know if you know one—but I did like the reference to ‘A touch of cold’ in this small but lovely poem, ‘Autumn‘, by TE Hulme. See what you think.

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where the enchanted live

Like many singers, I’m starting to look forward to stepping back into some version, at least, of the regular rhythm of rehearsing and performing which has been part of the structure of my life for—jings—4 decades now. At an informal sing in someone’s garden the other week (I can’t really dignify it by the title of rehearsal!) it was chastening to realise how much our voices have suffered from separation and silence. But it was still delicious to come together to make music, croaky and awkward as it was. I love the way Lisel Mueller honours and articulates the particular joy of live music (in the poem’s case, of listening to it). Read ‘Brendel Playing Schubert‘ or have it read to you (press the little arrow at the top. Poem starts c. 3.10.)

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not making lemonade, but…

I took down the “events” page from this site in about May last year. Reading and other engagements were cancelled, of course, and though I’ve taken part in some online launches and Youtube events, it’s not the same as meeting in person. Sharing a room and a poem with others has a real magic in it, and forgoing that has been one of the many losses of The Current Situation; tiny, perhaps, but real. As Cilla might have said, there’s a lorra lorra lemons about at the moment.

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the unbroken

A couple of years ago the 42 group began a December tradition of making a poetry advent calendar. We choose a topic and each contribute a few of our favourite poems which, with a great deal of sherry and swearing, I grapple into a vaguely consistent format, allotting a poem to each day of advent and emailing out the resulting document. This year our topic has been healing/reassurance/comfort, that sort of thing. The Christmas Eve poem a group member contributed was new to me—so beautiful and so apt for these strange times that, with apologies to group members who are seeing the same poem twice in one day, I share it here too. Delight in ‘The Unbroken‘ by Rashani.

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thank you

At the moment, the world is offering us lots of reminders that life is short and time’s winged chariot is always hurrying near. It’s easy to get sucked into fear, anger or sorrow about this. They’re all around us (as well as inside us). So I was particularly delighted to discover this poem which suggests a different and beautiful response to intimations of mortality. Here it is: ‘Thank you‘ by Ross Gay. Read it and be refreshed. (You can also hear him read a couple of bits from a recent book here.)

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strangeness making sense

The other poem in my head while I was on holiday was one I almost always hear in there when I’m away from home: Larkin’s ‘The Importance of Elsewhere‘. The experience of being where no-one knows your name (apologies for the echo of the Cheers theme tune which may have just drifted across your mind) can feel safe or frightening, liberating or paralysing, and I’ve always loved Larkin’s exploration of these facts in this poem.

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beside the seaside

I am lucky enough to be retreating from Real Life for a while: a week (ish) away near the Galloway coast in a house where there’s no internet and only a very feeble, intermittent phone signal. So this column will be on holiday along with me, though back as usual in a fortnight’s time. To give you a virtual visit to the sort of place I’ll be, and a vision of the sorts of creatures I hope to be gazing upon, here’s the vivid and wonderful ‘Rhu Mor‘ by Norma MacCaig. (Unfortunately I can’t find this anywhere on the internet with the poet’s own layout on the page, so we’ll have to make do with this. As consolation, you can hear MacCaig himself reading it here.)

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an unlikely trio

It’s very often time for Mary Oliver, I find, though I know those who do not agree. For those readers, best pass by. Today I wanted to read ‘Wild Geese‘, so I am. I know most people have already read it. I know that (like other Oliver texts) it’s been plundered for Pinterest posts and self-help-seminar titles and many, many Inspirational Items (posters, mugs, t-shirts, who knows what). Still, its beauty and wisdom persist—just as the Mona Lisa survives being a jigsaw. So: enjoy ‘Wild Geese’ all over again (with the plus of hearing Oliver read it).

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