Books · Poetry · Read in 2022 · Reviews

(poetry) Book Thoughts: Wintering Out (Seamus Heaney)

Maybe this will need another read before it clicks

★★★★☆☆☆

Title: Wintering Out
Author: Seamus Heaney (Northern Ireland/UK)
Genre: Poetry
First published: 1972
Edition: Paperback, published by Faber & Faber

‘Seamus Heaney has gone beyond the themes of his earlier poetry and has made the giant step towards the most ambitious, most intractable themes of maturity. The power of this book comes from a sense that he is reaching out towards a type of desolation and of isolation without which no imagination can be seen to have grown up.’ Eavan Boland, Irish Times

***

I find poetry notoriously hard to put my thoughts together on. It’s so subjective. To the person, to the mood, even to the moment and what has been read before.

Having recently read some poetry I absolutely loved, this one felt no more than decent for me. There were a few poems in this collection that I really enjoyed and felt, but the majority did not hit home for me this time. They did feel better when I read them out loud and found the cadence in the words.

I know that poetry can hit differently on different days and words that make no sense on a random Sunday in February may flood the mind with meaning on another random day in August. I will definitely read this one again and I do want to read more collections by Seamus Heaney. Sometimes it takes a while for the words to take shape in my mind, and I may just have to read a few by him before I ‘get’ his poetry. I did not feel this one alone gave me enough to understand the poet’s words.

As a poet, respected as he is, Heaney is yet to bowl me over, but this collection did make me want to seek out more, so I guess it made enough of an impact.

4 out of 7 stars

Books · Poetry · Read in 2021 · Reviews

(Poetry) Book Thoughts: The Flowers of Evil (Charles Baudelaire)

Melancholy perfection

★★★★★★★

Title: The Flowers of Evil
Author: Charles Baudelaire
Translator: Anthony Mortimer
Genre:
 Poetry / Classic
First published: 1857
Edition: Paperback, dual language edition, published by Alma Classics in 2016

Judicially condemned in 1857 as offensive to public morality, The Flowers of Evil is now regarded as the most influential volume of poetry published in the nineteenth century. Torn between intense sensuality and profound spiritual yearning, racked by debt and disease, Baudelaire transformed his own experience of Parisian life into a work of universal significance. With his unflinching examination of the dark aspects and unconventional manifestations of sexuality, his pioneering portrayal of life in a great metropolis and his daring combination of the lyrical and the prosaic, Baudelaire inaugurated a new epoch in poetry and created a founding text of modernism.

***

I always find it hard to discuss poetry. I don’t know enough about poetry, technically speaking. I only know whether a poet’s work speaks to me or not. Well, I can confirm that Baudelaire’s poetry speaks loud and clearly. It speaks loud and clear in melancholy tones that I came to love.

The format of most of the poems is quite simple, but I can imagine how controversial the content of these poems must have been when they came out. For modern eyes they do not shock, but it was a different world back then. My modern eyes (and ears) much enjoyed reading this. His imagery is beautiful and the rhythm of his poems, mostly classical forms, just work so well.

The subject matter range from love to destruction and everything in between. There is deep sadness, despair, but also moments of admiration and yes, love. Considering his life (there was a helpful biography at the back), these poems make sense in that context. Yet, even before I knew anything about his life, his poems just clicked for me.

These poems are easy to read, but take a little bit more time to digest, just the way I like them. I will definitely be dipping in and out of this book, reading a poem here and there, in the future.

I don’t quite think this will be for everyone. The imagery can be a little crude and it does deal with sex and prostitutes rather a lot, but as a document of the time and as poetry, I thought this was exquisite.

I loved that this is a dual language edition, with the original French poem on one side and the English translation on the other. I did refer to the French versions every now and then and the rhythm felt much the same, so I can only surmise that this is a pretty good translation!

7 out of 7 stars

Books · Poetry · Reviews

(Poetry) Book Thoughts: Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt (John Cooper Clarke)

Brilliant use of the English language!

★★★★★★☆

Title: Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt
Author: John Cooper Clarke
Genre: Poetry / Punk Poetry / Modern Poetry
First published: 1983
Edition: Paperback, published by Vintage in 2012

Punk. Poet. Pioneer. The Bard of Salford’s seminal collection is as scabrous, wry & vivid now as it was when first published over 25 years ago.

There is something about the rhythms of John Cooper Clarke poems that I really like.

Of course I have seen/heard him perform a poem or two on television over the years, so I am familiar with his style of reciting them, which helps to find that rhythm in myself as I am reading them.

His subject matter is gritty, his delivery is sharp as a knife, and his language choices and (internal) rhyme schemes just work for me.

I did not love each and every one of the poems, but the vast majority I really enjoyed.

If you enjoy modern poetry, I would definitely recommend this one!

(on a side note, the illustrations by Steve Maguire are pretty great too)

6 out of 7 stars

Books · Poetry · Reviews

(Poetry) Book Thoughts: The Love Poems of Rumi

The trouble with translations…

☆UNRATED☆ (for now)

Title: The Love Poems of Rumi
Author: Rumi (translated by Nader Khalili)
Genre: Poetry
First published: 1998 (originals written in the 13th century)
Edition: Hardback, published by Wellfleet in 2015

 Included in this book is a collection of Jalal al-Din Rumi’s passionate love poems, translated by Nader Khalili. Beautifully designed and illustrated throughout, you’ll become spiritually inspired by the words in this book. Perfect for lovers, dreamers, and poets, the poems from this 13th century theologist will leave you wistfully peaceful.

***

Yes, I fell for the package. This is a nice looking volume with gilded edges and all that jazz.

After reading a few books that mentioned Rumi’s work in a smaller or larger extent, I felt compelled to pick up some work by him. I now feel that this volume was not the right choice to dive into his work. The translation feels very clumsy and does not flow well.

The longer poems definitely feel more coherent than the shorter ones, but still the translation kept bothering me. At times a poem would touch my heart, but then some clumsy wording would ruin it for me.

I have now researched the most faithful translations of Rumi’s work and I will definitely try a different translation instead.

I will leave this unrated for now. I did not hate it, but it did leave me unsatisfied.

UNRATED

Books · Poetry · Reviews

(Poetry) Book Thoughts: Violet Bent Backwards Over The Grass (Lana Del Rey)

★★★★★★☆

Title: Violent Bent Over The Grass Backwards
Author: Lana Del Rey
Genre: Poetry
First published: 2020
Edition: Hardback, published by Simon and Schuster in 2020

“Violet Bent Backwards Over the Grass is the title poem of the book and the first poem I wrote of many. Some of which came to me in their entirety, which I dictated and then typed out, and some that I worked laboriously picking apart each word to make the perfect poem. They are eclectic and honest and not trying to be anything other than what they are and for that reason I’m proud of them, especially because the spirit in which they were written was very authentic.” —Lana Del Rey

🌸🌸🌸

I bought this poetry book on a whim. I have been listening to the author’s music quite a lot lately. It always touches me, so I figured maybe her poetry would as well. It did.

There is something very lyrical, but real and heartfelt about her prose. It took me a few poems to get used to the rhythm and feel of her writing, but by the end I really loved it. I loved how her poems are irregular and almost jarring at times. It made sense in the themes of this work, which seems to be an exploration of life and self and maybe acceptance as well, her place in this immediate world she is existing in.

I enjoyed this thoroughly and the photographs scattered throughout and the way her typed pages are printed in the book give it a great feel. The hardback was a joy to read.

I definitely want to listen to her reading this work, but as a poetry book it already hit the right spot for me.

6 out of 7 stars