Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingerreadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts on Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.
This Wednesday’s topic is Books to Give _____ as Gifts: Create a recommendations guide for a person. Be creative with this. It can be simple such as “books for parents”, more elaborate like “books for Ravenclaws”, or expert level like “books for -insert your favourite fictional character here-“. You can even take out the category completely and have all 5 be suggestions for different types of people!
At this time of year, every publisher knocks it out of the park with their stunning gift collections, pretty editions of classics, and illustrated books. I think these are often the perfect things to gift to your nearest and dearest, whether they’re voracious readers or not, and they can often be the gateway books into a new genre or medium. In an effort to make this list a tad more specialised, I decided to focus my efforts on Books to Give Poetry Newbies as Gifts. I myself am something of a relative newbie to poetry so I feel I’m well-placed to say what would/wouldn’t intimidate me if I were gifted it during the holidays – and a nicely illustrated or packaged edition always helps!
Honourable Mention: Your favourite poetry collection!
It may sound obvious but, hey, if you have a favourite poetry collection, this is the perfect occasion to spread the love! I myself have gifted Elisabeth Hewer’s Wishing for Birds collection to some people in previous years for Christmas. It’s a poetry collection which I immensely enjoyed and which I think isn’t too challenging or demanding for people who are new to poetry. It’s also full of themes which I think/hope a lot of people could relate to.
Happy National Poetry Day! For those who don’t know “National Poetry Day is an annual celebration that inspires people throughout the UK to enjoy, discover and share poems. Everyone is invited to join in, whether by organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday. National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by the charity Forward Arts Foundation, whose mission is to celebrate excellence in poetry and increase its audience. The Day enjoys the support of the BBC, Arts Council England, the Royal Mail and leading literary and cultural organisations, alongside booksellers, publishers, libraries and schools.” For more info, you can check out their Twitter or the hashtag #nationalpoetryday where people everywhere are sharing all sorts of poetry!
Back in 2015 I shared some of my favourite poems, but this year I’ve tried to add a bit of variety by sharing a few of my new favourites. I’m not an avid poetry reader – I know what I like, and I stick to it, which tends to mean a lot of early modern-era poems. However, poetry isn’t just sonnets and long epic poems and these have quickly become some of my favourite poems. Although they don’t strictly fit with this year’s theme of “Freedom”, I would loosely argue these poems have helped me free myself from the shackles of the older poetry I otherwise cling to… is that a bit of a stretch in interpretation? I don’t care, today is just about sharing poetry you love!
Title: Wishing for Birds (2016)
Author: Elisabeth Hewer
Read: 21st January 2017
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
In this breath-takingly beautiful debut collection, Elisabeth Hewer displays a sense of lyricism and astuteness that make her poetry sing.
“Rebellion sits well on you
like a red coat
or the gilt gold burnish of youth”
Collecting together sixty poems, Wishing For Birds covers topics that range from the most personal and individual to the national and social, displaying in the process Hewer’s keen grasp of how to introduce and weave (at times, unusual) imagery into the “narrative” of her poems. Some of her poems look outwards, to the world around her, others look inwards, and others look back to the past. Some poems span a mere couple of lines, some are longer, but all are penned in a distinct voice which encapsulates Hewer’s spirit – the girl who (it seems) wishes for birds.
In case you’ve miraculous missed it on the news, the BBC, news websites, or Twitter, today is National Poetry Day. I will be the first to admit that, despite being a literature student, my poetry knowledge is shamefully limited at best. Let alone modern poetry or, worse still, performance poetry – a whole world that I just haven’t explored enough to form an opinion either way. However, I thought I’d stick to my guns and share some of my favourite poems, the majority of which were written in the early modern or Romantic era, with no apology to be found since I happen to think they are crafted beautifully.
The Canonization – John Donne [full poem]
“We can die by it, if not live by love,
And if unfit for tomb or hearse
Our legend be, it will be fit for verse;
And if no piece of chronicle we prove,
We’ll build in sonnets pretty rooms;
As well a well-wrought urn becomes
The greatest ashes, as half-acre tombs,
And by these hymns, all shall approve
Us canonized for love;”
To His Coy Mistress – Andrew Marvell [full poem]
“Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, Lady, were no crime
We would sit down and think which way
To walk and pass our long love’s day.
Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side
Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood,
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.”
Holy Sonnet X – John Donne Continue reading