Category Archives: Poetry

Forgetfulness

We spoke about forgetfulness the other week, Linda Sargent and I. I forget why.

No, I had not heard of the poem Forgetfulness by Billy Collins. At least, I don’t think so.

Linda very kindly sent me the words after she got home, so I could read the poem. Thank goodness she remembered. Because I didn’t, until it arrived in the post.

It’s quite reassuring in a way, as it describes me perfectly. And I suppose it’s good to know I’m not alone in this. But whether or not us old and confused readers stand a chance of improving, I have no idea. Presumably not.

The page I received had a comment by Billy, mentioning people in their thirties, and people in their forties or fifties. He didn’t say anything about those of us a little older than that.

So whatever you do, don’t ask me if I’ve read anything good recently. Well, by all means do, but my reply won’t go further than ‘yes.’ If pressed for examples, I will be forced to turn to Bookwitch. She will know what I read last week.

So you might as well have looked there.

What about you? Did you have a nice Easter?

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On (not) keeping track

Occasionally I’m pretty useless.

I had heard of Robert Macfarlane, even if I couldn’t say much about him. I read an interesting article by him in the Guardian, probably a few years ago, on what children no longer learn. I think that’s roughly what it was about.

And I’ve more knowledge about Jackie Morris, while not being an expert. Her illustrations are quite something. We also have ‘a few’ Facebook friends in common, and they are all big fans of Jackie’s work, and when there is a new book out, they are always very appreciative and comment a lot.

Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, The Lost Words

So I imagined that’s what it was about when ‘everyone’ was talking about, and praising, The Lost Words by Jackie Morris and Robert Macfarlane, some time before Christmas.

The penny dropped much, much later. I’ve even forgotten what it was that made me join up all the dots at long last. The book, and those gorgeous illustrations are related to the article I remembered reading. I just didn’t know there was going to be a book about it. Clearly, I never received the memo.

I get – now – why everyone was going on so. It was more than the normal Jackie fever.

Poet on the runway!

Don’t take any notice of what I’m about to mention here.

My Swedish Bookwitch-sister recently blogged about Elsa Grave, a poet who lived ‘not too far away’ from where the younger Bookwitch used to live and work, whereas I see that it’s been quite a while since I wrote about Elsa on here.

A friend emailed me about her a while back, and it was when I mentioned this to the family that the Resident IT Consultant asked how important a poet she was. And I have absolutely no idea.

When someone is ‘famous’ locally, it could be that they are merely a big fish in a small pond, or it’s possible they are world famous, or at least a national treasure. So I don’t know. We looked Elsa up on Wikipedia, and she seems to have done a bit of everything.

Anyway, this post was caused by what my friend said. It seems her mother knew Elsa, whereas I never really stopped to think about even where she lived, despite my postal connection to Elsa’s cat and her pot plants. I knew her postman fed one and watered the others, but as to the where, well that seemed irrelevant.

Now I know, and I can quite see why Elsa did what she did, both from a geographical point of view, as well as how it fits in with her personality. When she wanted to go into town, she cycled. And the most direct route was along the runway of our small airfield/airport. Strictly not allowed, but apparently she knew the timetable…

Mind you, I’m sure this never happened.

The Rainmaker Danced

Poems are always hard to review, and poems and I don’t always see eye to eye. But there is something about this collection of poems by John Agard that drew me in.

Illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura, there is much to see and think about. Some of the poems are literally sitting inside the pictures, or otherwise a part of one thing, instead of separate.

John Agard and Satoshi Kitamura, The Rainmaker Danced

I particularly liked the poem about whether or not you believe in Nessie, which was beautifully illustrated with our favourite Loch Ness monster.

And I like the fact that John uses such ordinary words in his poems. Nothing too grand, as can be seen in the sad story about the Sputnik dog; ‘soon Laika is a goner.’

I don’t know whether this is more for children to read themselves, or if you read the poems to them. Both, probably. Or either.

Troll Stinks

Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross, Troll Stinks

It looks like Jeanne Willis has her heart set on educating young readers, and what better way than through poetry and catchy illustrations?

This time Jeanne and Tony Ross are tackling cyberbullying, and high time, too. (It ends better than Chicken Clicking, in case you’re worried…)

Jeanne rhymes her way through a different version of the Billy Goats Gruff, where a young silly Billy  finds a mobile phone and decides to get up to no good with it, along with his friend. They take selfies and send horrible text messages to Troll.

And then they go off to visit Troll. Aren’t they brave?

Well, no, they are bullies. The thing is, just as goats – maybe – have the right to cross bridges; perhaps trolls are entitled to try and prevent them?

Maya Angelou

I knew nothing about Maya Angelou when I first read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, back in my teens. Rather mistakenly I assumed it’d be boring. But it wasn’t, and I went on to read the other two books about Maya’s life. I was mostly surprised that it could seem so modern and ‘with it’ for being set as long ago [then] as over thirty years before.

As an adult I kept track of what became of the marvellous Maya, until the day she read her poetry in public, next to the new President, thus proving how much a black girl from the American South can do.

Lisbeth Kaiser and Leire Salaberria, Maya Angelou

There is a new picture book about Maya, by Lisbeth Kaiser, with illustrations by Leire Salaberria.

To be truthful I do feel it is a little bit sugary sweet, but probably aimed at really quite young children, so I suppose it has to be. They have to skirt over what really was done to Maya by men, and by society.

But it’s important that young children can read success stories like hers, as well as finding a small black girl in a book like this. Whether that’s more important if you are black, or white, I can’t say. We all have our needs, and we must be educated.

Hopefully this book will inspire young children to learn more about Maya, once they are a little older. She was truly a great role model.

All right, maybe some more last photos then

Nearly twenty years after J K Rowling was here with her first book, it has been illustrated by Jim Kay, and become much, much larger.

J K Rowling and Jim Kay, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

From Potter to poetry with Zaffar Kunial and the Scottish Makar. And festival director Nick Barley.

Zaffar Kunial, Jackie Kay and Nick Barley

And Pufflings, as in Lynne Rickards’ Skye the Puffling, with Jon Mitchell.

Lynne Rickards and Jon Mitchell, Skye the Puffling

Sticking with my letter P theme, here is Petr Horáček and Nicola Davies, busy entertaining fans in the children’s bookshop.

Petr Horáček and Nicola Davies

Slightly scarier stuff in Zom-B Goddess, but Darren Shan is as polite as they come.

Darren Shan, Zom-B Goddess

And before I leave you with another image of my favourite lights in trees, I offer you two people who always make my book festival a pleasanter place; local agent Lindsey Fraser in conversation with Mr B.

Lindsey Fraser and Mr B

Charlotte Square

(In order to find our first encounter with Mr B, I went down Memory Lane, which is about seven years away, and I was astounded to see how many authors were around then. We were only there for a week, but had authors practically coming out of our ears.)