Poetic ways to fill the days…

Poetic ways to fill the days… BEL MOONEY reveals the best books to gift those who love rhymes this Christmas

  • Bel Mooney has picked out a selection of the best books for poetry lovers 
  • Ana Sampson inspires celebration of the Natural History Museum in Wonder 
  • Kim Moore delights women with feisty collection All The Men I Never Married  


Are there poems for particular moments in history? In a time of increasing environmental awareness, Ana Sampson’s latest anthology directs attention to the natural world, through an inspirational celebration of the Natural History Museum. Wonder (Macmillan, £14.99) offers a cornucopia of words about bugs, birds, fossils, fish, plants, people and dinosaurs, of course. Marketed for children, it’s a wonderful, varied collection for all ages .

Also of the moment — the #MeToo protest moment — is the fine, prize-winning poet Kim Moore’s latest, feisty collection, All The Men I Never Married (Seren, £9.99) which many women will greet with hoots of delight. Boldly, with sadness, anger and humour, Moore confronts the harm men can do and recalls her own rebellions. Yet these are not ‘victim’ poems but proud assertions of strength and defiance.

UK-based literary critic Bel Mooney has rounded up a selection of the best books for poetry lovers. Pictured left: Wonder by Ana Sampson, Pictured right: Kim Moore’s All The Men I Never Married

Some poets will, you believe, last for all time, with work that examines both the personal and public, yet never whines. I could name, for example, Michael Symmons Roberts and Ian Duhig, whose New And Selected Poems (Picador £14.99) is a master class in elegance, wit and fierce intelligence. One gem of a ‘love’ poem, ‘Bridled Vows’ ends with the laconic line, ‘I think it’s worth a shot’ — and should be read with a smile at weddings.

Former Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy calls Duhig ‘the most original poet of his generation’ and this satisfying chunky volume should bring him more admirers.

Finally, two anthologies to beguile the time. Allie Esiri’s last three anthologies selected a year’s worth of daily readings for day, for night, and of Shakespeare. Now A Poet For Every Day Of The Year (Macmillan £20) introduces poets ancient and modern with lively, imaginative introductions to each. From the anonymous Beowulf poet to Bob Dylan, Esiri’s chosen poets fulfil her aim, ‘to transport you from the Roman Forum to the Harlem Renaissance, from a Chinese tea ceremony to a summer cricket match.’ This book will start my mornings in 2022.

So will 100 Poets selected by John Carey (Yale University £14.99, 320 pp). He starts with Home and ends with the Australian Les Murray, and in between there isn’t one choice I’d contest.

Introductions to each writer are lightly erudite and Carey’s aim is to find poems that will remain with his readers ‘for life’. A perfect start for those new to poetry, this sparkling selection contains insights into the human condition.

To buy any book on these pages with a 10 per cent discount, visit mailshop.co.uk/Christmas or call 020 3176 2937  

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