I spent a lot of time scrolling through the hashtag for #WorldPoetryDay on twitter yesterday and I wholeheartedly recommend you do the same. The tweets range from people poking fun, to people sharing their favourite poems, to even more people writing their own. There were some brilliant spoken word poets hanging about who posted videos on twitter! It was a lovely thing to watch. And as someone who never really “got” poetry when I was at school, I’ve turned into someone who enjoys reading it, who wrote it a lot throughout Uni (sure, some of it was basically me wanking my emotions onto a page but go with it) and who now even goes so far as to indulge in the occasional poetry collection. So here, for your reading pleasure, are a few of my favourite poetry books or books including poetry and a few tweets from the day! (Yes, my own are in here. I like them. Deal with it!)
I will begin with winner of pretty much ALL of the awards, One by Sarah Crossan. Who can deny the sheer wonder if this book? It’s utterly beautiful, captivating from start to finish and one of my most favourite things that I read last year. I now want to read everything Sarah Crossan ever writes, whether it be poetry or not. With that in mind, it certainly feels worth mentioning 2017’s We Come Apart by Brian Conaghan and Sarah Crossan. If you are subscribed to my YouTube Channel or, at the very least, have watched any of my most recent videos, there is a fairly high chance I will have mentioned this absolute gorgeous wonder of a novel. I can’t help myself. It’s so good. Telling the stories of Nicu, a Romanian immigrant struggling to fit in, and Jess, whose home life is overshadowed by awfulness and violence, in short poems, We Come Apart is one of those once in a lifetime books that attaches itself to your heart and refuses to let go. The voices sparkle on the page, both of the characters so alive in each of their sections. It’s absolutely beautiful.
When it comes to single poet collections it is a rare day when I will treat myself (and I do consider it a treat) to anything. I came to Physical by Andrew McMillan because of Simon Savidge over at SavidgeReads on YouTube (I recommend you give that little link a click, he is wonderful!) when he recommended it. I found myself utterly absorbed in these poems and found such joy in dipping in and out of them over the week or so that I read them. The collection as a whole is so raw and emotive you can’t really help but be taken along by it. Wintertime on the trains and there’s nothing quite as warm and comforting as a poem.
Something that began as a bit of a joke from me to begin with on National Poetry Day last year was tweeting lyrics to popular songs as if they were poems and then using the hashtag.
You want a hot body?
You want a Bugatti?
You want a Maserati?
You better work bitch!
– Britney Spears #NationalPoetryDay
— George Lester (@TheGeorgeLester) October 8, 2015
This is all well and good and very *very* funny, but it definitely started an interesting conversation with the poetry editor I work with at Macmillan (the legendary Gaby Morgan) about how song lyrics are actually poems too. I felt pretty stupid to have not thought about this before tbh. Both songs and poems have the ability to make me cry or laugh or make my heart ache or burn and that’s why I’m mentioning Chris Russell’s wonderful debut novel Songs About A Girl. Featuring lyrics and songs written by the man himself (with demos on his website!) this is the perfect example of the power of music and lyrics. Also, it’s a cracking yarn!
And on the subject of cracking yarns, let’s talk about All Of The Above by Juno Dawson. In the review of this that I put on Goodreads about a year and a half ago I said ‘The sections of poetry are filled with well chosen words that have been carefully put in just the right place to hit you (and forgive this) right in the feels. They are wonderful and, along with the brilliant way Dawson has dealt with sexuality and the wonder/horror of being a teenager in this book, a definite highlight.’ This 100% still stands. The poems are just excellent and were even better when I got to hear Juno performing them at the YALC poetry slam last year. Juno is one of my favourite authors and I sort of hope for either more poetry in her books in future, or maybe even a collection. That would be ace.
And here are a few tweets from throughout the day and even from last year’s World Poetry Day.
— NASA (@NASA) March 21, 2017
— pau (@CubbyPau) March 22, 2017
— Keris Stainton (@Keris) October 1, 2016
— Keris Stainton (@Keris) March 21, 2017
(This is the one I’m most proud of, FYI)
Roses are red
Violets are violet
If you be my captain
I’ll be your co-pilot #WorldPoetryDay
— George Lester (@TheGeorgeLester) March 21, 2017