The cir­cle of po­etic life

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - BOOKS - KATE WIL­SON

For my sev­enth birth­day, my par­ents gave me a book con­tain­ing hun­dreds of po­ems. It was a small, fat book with­out pic­tures. At first I found it daunt­ing: with­out pic­tures there was noth­ing to catch my eye, noth­ing to lead me into the book.

But one wet af­ter­noon after school, I took it down and be­gan to read. And that was it for me: I fell in love with po­etry, with rhyme, with rhythm, with the way that po­etry squashed big feel­ings, big thoughts, big things into tiny boxes of bril­liance for the reader to un­pack. It be­came my favourite book. I have it still. It is stuffed with lit­tle slips of pa­per that I used to mark the po­ems I liked best. As I grew older, those po­ems changed: a poem that baf­fled and bored me when I was seven re­vealed it­self to me a cou­ple of years later. I learned many of them by heart, and could re­cite them to you now.

When I was that seven-year-old child, I lived in a very small house with a very big gar­den on the out­skirts of a city. The house was quite new, but the gar­den had old trees in it – a lilac, a holly and an ap­ple tree so climbable it seemed as if it had grown it­self with climb­ing chil­dren in mind. Those trees were alive with small birds and, one spring, there was a nest with blue eggs in it and,

“I have pub­lished many po­etry books. But none has been as am­bi­tious as this one”

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