Poetry Reading Challenge #WyrdandWonder

Welcome to week 20 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.

This week I’ve been rereading the poetry of JRR Tolkein. LOTR is full of poems and songs from the drinking songs of the Prancing Pony to the sad epics sung by the elves. One of my all time favourites though comes from the very beginning of the journey when Frodo, Sam and Pippin had just spent their first night under the stars.

The Road goes ever on

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began
Now far ahead the Road has gone
And I must follow if I can.

Pursuing it with weary feet
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet
And wither then? I cannot say.

I love poems about roads and paths in the same way that I love stories about quests and journeys. This seems to me to have the same sort of mood as The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost.


Poetry Reading Challenge #WyrdandWonder

Welcome to week 18 of my poetry reading challenge for 2023. I’ve challenged myself to read at least one poem a week during 2023 and during the month of May, they are all going to be fantastical or magical as it’s the month of #wyrdandwonder.

I began the year by reading the poems of Thomas Hardy and I’ve gone back to Hardy for this week’s poem.

When I set out to Lyonnesse
A hundred miles away
The rime was on the spray
And starlight lit my loneliness
When I set out for Lyonnesse
A hundred miles away.

What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there
No prophet durst declare
Nor did the wisest wizard guess
What would bechance at Lyonnesse
While I should sojourn there.

When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes
All marked with mute surprise
My radiance rare and fathomless
When I came back from Lyonnesse
With magic in my eyes.

I wonder what it was that happened to the poet on his visit to the fabled land of Lyonnesse?

In reality, the poem recalls Hardy’s visit to St Juliot in Cornwall as a young architect where he first met his wife, Emma. Although that’s real life rather than fantasy, falling in love has a magic all of its own.

Poetry Reading Challenge Week 17

Week 17 of reading poems which by my reckoning means that we’re a third of the way through the year. As usual, the time is flying by.

This week, I’ve been reading some of the poetry of American poet Emily Dickinson. I’ve heard her name a lot and quotations from her poems are used quite frequently in novels but never actually read any of her poems until this week. This book is just a short collection of poems with no commentary at all and I found her poetry to be quite challenging to read. There are some gorgeous images but quite often, the subject matter changes within the poem. A lot of the poems in this collection seem to be about death but I don’t know if that is representative of her poetry as a whole.

This is quite a short poem but it stayed in my head after I read it earlier this week.

A slash of Blue –
A sweep of Grey –
Some Scarlet patches on the way.
Compose an evening sky –
A little Purple – slipped between –
Some Ruby trousers hurried on –
A wave of Gold –
A bank of Day –
This just makes out the Morning sky.
Emily Dickinson

Poetry Reading Challenge Week 16

Week 16 of my Poetry Challenge saw me finish reading the collection of Spring Poems before it goes back to the library later today.

My final choice from this book is Three Good Things by Jan Dean. Gratitude and thinking of all the things that make us happy is very important in today’s world so this one seemed very appropriate. Jan Dean is a poet living in Devon who mainly now works as a children’s poet working in schools as well publishing collections of children’s poetry.

Three Good Things
At day’s end, I remember
Three good things.

Apples maybe-their skinshine smell
and soft froth of juice.

Water maybe – the pond in the park
dark and full of secret fish.

A mountain maybe – that I saw in a film,
or climbed last holiday,
and suddenly today it thundered up
into a playground game.
Or else an owl – I heard an owl today
and I made bread.
My head is full of all these things,
It’s hard to choose just three.

I let remembering fill me up
with all good things
so that good things will overflow
into my sleeping self,

and in the morning
good things will be waiting,
when I wake.

Jan Dean

Poetry Reading Challenge Week 15

Up to week 15 and the proof that I need challenges like this to keep me on track was found last night when I suddenly realised that I hadn’t read anything for today’s blog post. Obviously I know that it doesn’t really matter if I don’t read at least one poem a week . The world isn’t going to end or even change at all. But I do enjoy reading the poems and the challenge keeps me focused.

I’m still reading my way through the Spring Collection that I have from the library at the moment.

I read a whole block of poems last night to bring me up to date in the book and the poem that stood out was this poem written by American Mary Elizabeth Frye in 1932. Although she wrote for many years, this is her only famous poem.

Do not stand at my grave and weep

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow
I am the diamond glints on snow
I am the sun on ripened grain
I am the gentle autumn’s rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight
I am the stars that shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry
I am not there, I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye 1932

I just find this beautiful and can see why it is read so often at funerals.

Book Blogger Hop April 7

 The Book Blogger Hop was originally created by Jennifer @ Crazy-For-Books in March 2010 and ended on December 31, 2012. With Jennifer’s permission, it was relaunched on February 15, 2013 by Billy @ the Ramblings of a coffee addict. . Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end the following Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop’s purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.

This weeks question is: Do you spend your lunchtime reading? (submitted by Billy @ Coffee Addicted Writer)

Yes. Always. What I’m reading depends on whether I’m working or not. If it’s a day when I’m in school teaching, then I will be spending my lunchtime reading whatever work my pupils have produced in the preceding lesson and marking it. I have to say that although we have some excellent young writers, that isn’t my preferred way to spend my lunchtime.

If I’m at home, then I will generally eat my lunch in our small conservatory that looks out over our garden and read for at least an hour. I love being able to read at lunch times after 30 years as a teacher when lunchtimes were always spent marking pupils’ work. Reading a book at lunchtime still feels like such a luxury.

Do you spend your lunchtimes reading or is it a time just to grab a bite to eat while doing other stuff?

Poetry Reading Challenge Week 14

Week 14 of reading at least one poem a week which means that I’ve already read at least 12 more poems than I did through the whole of last year. It’s a lot more though as I generally read several poems at a time.

This week I have a collection of poems for Spring that I have from the library

There’s a brilliant variety of poems in this book and the one that stood out for me this week is this poem by John Agard which just made me smile.

A Date with Spring
Got a date with Spring
Got to look me best
Of all the trees
I’ll be the smartest dressed

Perfumed breeze
Behind me ear.
Pollen accessories
All in place.

Raindrop moisturiser
For me face
Sunlight tints
To spruce up the hair

What’s the good of being a tree
If you can’t flaunt your beauty?

Winter, I was naked
Exposed as can be.
Me wardrobe took off
With the wind.

Life was a frosty slumber
Now, Spring, here I come.
Can’t wait to slip into
Me little green number.

John Agard

WWW Wednesday March 29

It’s Wednesday again and unbelievably, it’s the end of March. The clocks have gone forward so we’re back on British Summer Time which means longer evenings. Hooray!! All the blossom is appearing on the trees so the hedgerows are beginning to look really pretty with white and pink flowers appearing everywhere.

As it’s Wednesday that means that it’s time for WWW Wednesday. This is one of my favourite memes and I love taking part in it and reading everybody else’s posts. I get so many great book recommendations from them! The meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm, and it’s currently hosted by Sam. It can be found on her blog Taking on a world of words which can be found here.

The idea of WWW Wednesday is just to answer three simple questions about what you are reading, have just finished and are about to read so here goes for this week.

What I’m currently reading

I’ve finally got round to reading this ARC which will complete one of my unfinished series this year. It’s been over a year since I read the previous book and it took me a while to remember all of the different points of view characters. I’m enjoying this final volume although have no idea how it’s all going to work out.

What I have recently finished reading

The Border by Erika Fatland

I finally finished this one and posted my review here

Death under a Little Sky by Stig Abell
This was a Net Galley ARC and I really enjoyed it. Jake Jackson is a high flying detective with the Met but he inherits an isolated house in the middle of nowhere. Wanting a change, he moves there and isolates himself from society. However he begins to get involved with the local vet and then one day, some human bones appear.

A lot of reviewers didn’t like the pace of the book but I enjoyed the slow pace as it gave the author plenty of space for developing the characters and location. It was written in the present tense which I found a bit tricky at first but soon got used to.

The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
There is a New Year’s Eve party held in an upmarket property development on the English/Welsh border. On New Year’s day, one of the developers, local boy made good, is found dead in the lake. And literally everybody, even the local police constable seems to have hated him. This was a great read. I loved the huge range of suspects and the way that their reasons were revealed gradually. I’ll definitely be looking out for any further books in this series.

Weyward by Emilia Hart
I really enjoyed this book. It did deal with some uncomfortable areas especially an abusive and controlling marriage but I loved the characters of all three women.

The Adventures of Amina al-Sarafi by Shannon Chakraborty
I absolutely loved this book. I guess it’s really historical fantasy as it’s set in the real world of the Indian Ocean around the 12th century. The author has carried out an incredible amount of research to make her world come alive and then put an elderly female ex-pirate with a demon husband in the middle of it. It’s a great adventure story and l loved Amina. I can’t wait to read what she gets up to next. It’s a beautiful book too. I have to say that I think that the UK cover is far prettier than the US one.

What I am intending to read next

I’m definitely looking forward to latest outing for Commissario Brunetti in Venice.

What are you reading this week?

Reader Confessions Book Tag and Blogoversary

Happy Blogoversary to me!!! My little corner of the book blogging world has been alive and kicking for two years and I’m really amazed by how much it’s come to mean to me. I’ve now got 200 followers which I know doesn’t sound very many to a lot of you but I’m so happy that anyone bothers to read what I post especially those of you who read and comment on nearly everything I write. It’s such a change from those early days when I felt as though I was just posting into space and got excited when I had one person press like.

To celebrate my blogoversary, I ‘m going to do the Reader Confessions Tag. I saw this posted by Carl on The Pine Scented Chronicles and thought it would be a nice one to do. I’ve tried to find out who created the tag but none of the posts I’ve found mention the creator. It’s certainly been around a long while as the earliest posts are way back in 2016 so whoever thought of it, had a great idea.

Have you ever damaged a book?

I do try to be careful with books and apart from wear on the spine, especially my frequent re-reads, I haven’t damaged books that I can remember. Apart from the answer to the next question.

Have you ever damaged a borrowed book?

😳😳😳 I had a brand new book from the library once and I was reading it while eating strawberries. I hadn’t realised quite how squishy this particular strawberry was and I managed to drip strawberry juice on one of the pages of this lovely new book. I did confess to the library assistant who said that they’d had a lot worse.

How long does it take you to read a book?

How long is a piece of string? That depends on so many factors. I can often read a romance or a normal length crime novel in a single evening so say about 3 hours. However, A Day of Fallen Night by Samantha Shannon which I read recently took about 5 days.

Books that you haven’t finished

I don’t often not finish books, I’m far more likely to skim read to the end but three books that I’ve put aside in the past six months were these:

Nights of Plague was one where I didn’t enjoy the writing style. The blurb sounded really exciting but it was presented as a history and written in quite a dry way so I lost interest.

Helgoland was my attempt to understand physics better. I got about halfway through and then gave up as, despite my best efforts, I just didn’t understand it 😢

1794 – The City between the Bridges was just so unrelentingly grim. I don’t mind dark books, I love the grim dark fantasy novels of Joe Abercrombie but this was on a completely different level.

Hyped or Popular Books that you thought were only OK or disliked

This could end up being quite a long list! The most obvious is A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah Maas. I don’t get the fuss about that one at all.

Two more recent books that I haven’t been that impressed by are Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake.

Is there a book that you wouldn’t tell anybody that you’re reading?

I can’t think of any thing for this question. I read fairly widely but there aren’t any books that I can think of where I wouldn’t want to own up to reading them.

How many books do you own?

I genuinely had no idea about this. I have less books now than this time last year as my husband and I had a huge purge of books before we created our little book room. I did a quick count and I have about 450 actual physical books spread across several book cases. According to my kindle, I have 535 ebooks so altogether I have own almost 1000 books!!!!!!

Are you a fast or slow reader?

Definitely a fast reader. It used to really annoy me when people would accuse me of not reading books properly because I read them so quickly. When I became a teacher and studied reading, I found that people read at a whole range of different speeds and some even faster than me.

The speed of my reading might also depend on what type of book I’m reading. I will probably read non fiction or a fantasy book with a lot of world building a bit more slowly than a romance which has a lot of dialogue. Sometimes if I’m really into the story, I will read more quickly as I desperately want to find out what happens.

Do you like to Buddy Read?

I have no idea as I’ve never done it. I think it would probably be fun to share your ideas about a book as you read it though.

Do you read better in your head or aloud?

It would never occur to me to read aloud when I’m reading to myself so definitely in my head. I do enjoy reading out loud though and used to love reading to my own children and to my class at school.

If you were only allowed to have one book, what would it be and why?

Can I have my kindle? It’s book sized after all!!!!

If I have to choose one physical book, then I would have to choose Lord of the Rings. I want the single volume with the illustrations by Alan Lee so I’ve got pictures to look at too. LOTR is a book I love hugely and I have so many memories of reading it at different times of my life

Thanks to Carl at The Pine Scented Chronicles for bringing this tag to my attention.

What would your reading confessions be?

Poetry Challenge Week 12

For week 12 of my challenge to read at least one poem, I went back to my own bookshelves to see what poetry I have. I discovered a book of Shakespeare’s Sonnets which I had completely forgotten about. I think my husband bought it for me when we performed in Kiss Me Kate as a show present. So I’ve gone from very contemporary feminist poetry to very classic sonnets. Most of them are love poems but this one seems that it could be just as much about a family member or friend.

Sonnet 30
When to the sessions of sweet silent thoughts
I summon up remembrance of things past
I sigh the lack of many a thing I sought
And with old woes, new wail my dear time’s waste
Then can I drown an eye (unused to flow)
For precious friends hid in death’s dateless night
And weep afresh love’s long since cancelled woe
And moan th’expense of many a vanished night.
Then can I grieve at grievances foregone
And heavily from woe to woe tell o’er
The sad account of fore-bemoaned moan
Which I new pay, as if not paid before
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend
All losses are restored and sorrows end

I’m certainly guilty of going over and over past events in my head and I love the idea of being able to think of a loved one and feel better.