Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Poetry corner

Sneakily, I realised that I could catch up with my quotas if I read a poetry book, as they tend to be much shorter!

Of course, poetry cannot really be read quickly. The fewer the words in a poem, the more carefully each one seems to have been chosen, and the more attention they demand. However, I decided I could at least widen my knowledge by picking poets I had never read.

I had already read Larkin's This be the Verse, the famous poem where he says, "They f**k you up, your mum and dad" and an excellent poem it is too. However I had never really fancied reading any more of his work, for the shameful reason that he didn't fit my romantic conception of a poet with his unattractive looks and specs. Fortunately my book-a-day scheme is leading me into unfamiliar ways!

The poems I enjoyed most in this collection were about animals: Wires, At Grass, and particularly Myxomatosis. This last is only 9 lines wrong but it perfectly captures a moment in time and the rabbit's confusion. The last lines are particularly touching and if it reflects an actual incident, you can only be glad that Larkin was there to dispatch the poor animal.

Without Reservations: the Travels of an Independent Woman by Alice Steinbach

Caroline lent me this, so I rushed home to read it (after Strictly Come Dancing: It Takes Two of course!)

It's the true story of a woman who decides to take a year off from her pressurised job as a journalist, and to travel and to try living in the moment much more. It's written in an easy, flowing style and you will drool at the descriptions of Paris, Monet's Garden, Venice and many more locations. It's a kind of modern Grand Tour. Really, she was brave enough to do what many of us would like to if we could organise the time and money to do it.

I thought her best writing, however, was her "remembrance of times past". She captures exactly those moments when we realise, for example, that the little boy we knew has gone forever, that we never realised those seemingly-ordinary, everyday moments would ever be lost to us in the past. Then she picks herself up and gets on with her life.

Luckily for her, getting on with her life often seems to involve meeting gorgeous foreign men!