I had a tricky relationship with poetry for a long time. It was something I found fascinatingly powerful as a reader yet entirely unapproachable as a writer. To try and rectify this, I made a conscious decision in the New Year to produce a lot more of my own poems and for better or worse, I’m glad I did. Naturally, when looking to write more poetry, I also spent more time reading it and decided it would be nice to share a few of my favourite poems with anyone else who may be interested in the beauty the written word has to offer.
Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep – Mary Elizabeth Frye: This is, in my eyes, one of the most poignant pieces ever written and it has been a huge influence on my own work. Hauntingly simplistic in its use of language, yet utterly moving in its sheer beauty; I adore it. Allegedly Frye had never written any poetry before and scrawled this verse on a paper shopping bag. Even as it grew in popularity, she only ever circulated it privately, never seeking formal recognition through publishing or copyrighting the piece. This origin story only makes me love and appreciate it even more.
Revelation – Liz Lochhead: I think Lochhead is one of Scotland’s finest poets. I remember first reading Revelation (largely about a loss of childhood innocence) years ago and its vivid use of imagery that engage the senses has stayed with me ever since. It’s very accessible yet no less commanding.
Still Falls the Rain – Edith Sitwell: This incredibly powerful poem is somewhat ‘heavier’ than I normally read and enjoy but something about it just totally engaged my mind. Sitwell’s war imagery is incredible and though it took me a few readings to fully appreciate its many layers, the piece is now one of my firm favourites.
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings – Maya Angelou: Easy to read yet hard-hitting in its message, this poem can resonate in so many ways. The inspiration is touching and the imagery hugely effective.
I could go on, as there are many poems that I love. In the spirit of not rambling on too much however and at risk of inevitably forgetting some, I will leave it at that for now. If you read any of them, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did and please do share any poems you like in the comments. I would love to check them out.