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
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.