Verse and verve

If you thought poetry was lofty and in­ac­ces­si­ble, a raft of in­no­va­tive and im­por­tant new col­lec­tions will change your mind, says Cyan Tu­ran

Red - - Reads -

When I got mar­ried ear­lier this year, my fo­cus wasn’t the dress or the canapés, but the read­ings. How to choose – from cen­turies of writ­ing about love – a few pas­sages to en­cap­su­late how my hus­band-to-be and I felt about each other?

I pored over the de­ci­sion for months, con­sult­ing my most book­ish friends, reread­ing my favourite tomes, and pick­ing the brains of Red’s fea­tures ed­i­tor, Natasha Lunn, au­thor of the fab­u­lous news­let­ter Con­ver­sa­tions on Love. Shake­speare’s Son­nets were all well and good, Cap­tain Corelli’s Man­dolin (‘Love is a tem­po­rary mad­ness…’) un­de­ni­ably beau­ti­ful, but we wanted read­ings de­void of haughty procla­ma­tions that felt unique to us.

In the end, we opted for a pas­sage from Vir­ginia Woolf’s Night And Day, a Joni Mitchell song, and a poem from new-gen In­sta-poet At­ti­cus’ first vol­ume, Love Her Wild. As I searched, it struck me that poetry isn’t all trou­bled souls and ob­scure metaphors, but – some­what thanks to a raft of new poets ex­plor­ing the bound­aries of the form – more ac­ces­si­ble than ever. And with Na­tional Poetry Day fall­ing on 4th Oc­to­ber, it’s time to cel­e­brate the art of the poem. Here are my favourite new vol­umes...

The mys­te­ri­ous one

The Dark Be­tween Stars by At­ti­cus (Head­line, £14.99) out now

Anony­mous In­sta-star At­ti­cus, known for his whim­si­cal, un­ti­tled mus­ings on love, has re­leased the fol­low-up to the best­selling Love Her Wild

col­lec­tion. ‘What Of The Fire­fly…’

was read at my wed­ding, so I’ll be por­ing over the verses in his new book – and Red has two ex­clu­sive ex­tracts.

We col­lided by mis­take fate danc­ing in the rafters as I wan­dered the room un­til I saw you laugh­ing to a friend and I closed my eyes so I could see the white swing the chil­dren laugh­ing a thou­sand mo­ments of happy and sad and old hands in old hands a life in a flash and there, in my open eyes — was you.

In the morn­ings she taught me French and after break­fast she would paint and I would write

and as the spring rain fell on the sky­light and the tea steamed from its mugs my heart hummed to the mu­sic of the dream we’d found.

The fem­i­nist one

She Is Fierce: Brave, Bold And Beau­ti­ful Poems By Women cu­rated by Ana Samp­son (Macmillan, £12.99) out now A col­lec­tion of works from writ­ers as di­verse as Hol­lie Mcnish, Christina Rosetti and Margaret At­wood, this out­stand­ing vol­ume groups poems by theme, in­clud­ing ‘Protest, Courage And Re­sis­tance’, ‘Love’, and ‘Friend­ship’. A deeper cel­e­bra­tion of fe­male word­smiths you’ll strug­gle to find.

The cool one

Run­ning Upon The Wires by Kate Tem­pest (Pi­cador, £9.99) out now

In her first book of poetry since the lauded Hold Your Own, Tem­pest chron­i­cles an

unashamedly per­sonal stage in her life, as she moves from dev­as­ta­tion at the end of a re­la­tion­ship to a new love. Un­flinch­ing and un­par­al­leled, this new col­lec­tion will con­firm her rep­u­ta­tion for teas­ing out the truth, how­ever hard it is to hear.

The big one

Sin­cer­ity by Carol Ann Duffy (Pi­cador, £14.99) out 1st Novem­ber Veteran verse-wielder Duffy ex­plores loss and re­mem­brance in her last full vol­ume as poet lau­re­ate – the big­gest, bold­est book of poems we’ll see this year.

The last one

The Flame by Leonard Co­hen (Canon­gate, £20) out 18th Oc­to­ber The news of Co­hen’s death in 2016 left fans bereft, but the Hal­lelu­jah song­writer left be­hind one fi­nal treat. Poetry, prose, draw­ings and jour­nal ex­cerpts make up The Flame, which he fin­ished just days be­fore he died. More in­ti­mate notebook than block­buster vol­ume, this work is a fit­ting legacy for a lit­er­ary leg­end.

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