all you who sleep tonight, books from the north east, collected poems, dancing earth, eating fire, jeet tayil, making cocoa for kingsley amis, margaret atwood, modern poetry, poetry, poetry recommendations, vikram seth, wendy cope
I’ve mostly read older poetry. Shakespeare, Yeats, Wordsworth, Eliot…..the ones we are told to read in school. If I liked them, I bought the collection and I kept it. But I’ve not read any newer collections after spotting one and being terribly intrigued, only to be left with a bitter taste in my mouth and my brain. (For those wondering I’m not going to say what book that was, it was awful and I don’t think it is poetry. Reads more like a bunch of drunk texts or emails that were given random line breaks and published.)
I was also nervous since most of the collections I’ve read have been “analysed” for me in school and I completely understood them. What if I don’t like poetry as much as I thought I did? What if I actually can’t understand anything? I know I write poetry but what if my style is dead and gone and currently unacceptable? So I continued keeping to my older collections and didn’t bother buying anything new. Till, I got my hands on Vikram Seth’s All You Who Sleep Tonight.
I spotted it in a used book store and it looked good. But I wanted to be sure so I checked reviews. All of them were raves and one of them said “it takes guts to rhyme in this day and age” so i grabbed it. This was an absolutely beautiful collection and I have now added all of Vikram Seth’s poetry to my wishlist. You can read my complete review here.
Then I, feeling a little encouraged, grabbed Wendy Cope’s Making Cocoa For Kingsly Amis. This is a humorous collection that’s absolutely memorable. Particularly adored the William Wordsworth parody (ba ba black sheep). This is another favourite of mine and I’ve added the rest of her collection to my wishlist as well. (She’s super expensive in India!)
Soon after I got Collected Poems by Jeet Tayil which is a breathtaking collection of his poetry through the years. There are some unpublished poems in this as well because, in his own words, Tayil says that he wouldn’t be publishing anymore because he can’t seem to write well since his wife died. This wasn’t following any traditional rhythmic patterns like the others were (Some were, but very few) and I still enjoyed a lot of the poems in this. And this was exactly the thing that gave me a push to explore more modern poets. Review here.
And I grabbed two more collections, Dancing Earth, which is a collection of translated to and written in English poems from the North East (India), and Eating Fire, which is a collection of poetry by the wonderful Margaret Atwood. I’ve read a few poems in each and it’s turning out to be an enlightening experience. I can’t wait to read more.
Its definitely hard to leave your comfort zone and from time to time i feel the need to jump back into a Yeats or a Poe or a Wordsworth and feel their words wrap around me like a familiar blanket but I suppose experience is discomfort. And If that’s that it takes to have a wider world of poetry available to me I will have to plod on and fall in love with poems of the modern world.