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.

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Poetry Challenge Week 11

Welcome to week 11 of my challenge to read at least one poem a week during 2023. I’m actually averaging well over one poem a week so it feels nice to be an over-achiever for once πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ

This week I’ve finished reading ‘these are the words‘ by Nikita Gill and for my chosen poem this week, I’ve picked this one which again, is about the fact that we are good enough.

Every Day

Is not an opportunity to improve yourself.
Some days are just there for you to accept yourself
and look at the clouds.
This too is growth.
This too is rising.
The flowers do it everyday
and make the world more beautiful
just by being there.

So do you.

Rest today.
There is tomorrow.

Nikita Gill


This has echoes for me of the bible passage where Jesus talks about the lilies in the field and that also is about not worrying too much over things. I hope that everyone can find some time to just rest and look at the clouds today.

Poetry Challenge Week 10

This week I have enjoyed continuing to read through ‘these are the words’ by Nikita Gill. It seemed especially appropriate to read a feminist collection in the week that saw International Women’s Day take place.

My chosen poem for this week feels like a battle cry against all the ways that women still feel that their bodies need to measure up against some advertisers ideal.

An Affirmation
My body is perfect as she is
a glowing orb in the universe
crafted from the hearts of falling stars
forests upon forests growing across my skin
rivers full of love-water flowing
through my veins.

When I need to fight, she gives me iron
enough to be a warrior.
When I need strength, she nourishes me
reminds me that I can do anything.
When I need joy,
she fills my head with pleasant memories.
She gives me everything I need,
exactly when I need it.

My body is more than
the blood of a dying star.
She is the reason I am a whole galaxy
dancing across the darkness
both in this moment
and forever.
Nikita Gill
This is a poem for all those women everywhere who feel that their bodies are something that has to conform to someone else’s ideal.

This is what it sounds like – A Review

This is what it sounds like by Susan Rogers and Ogi Ogas

I love music of all types. I’ve never learned a musical instrument other than the recorder but I have always sung in choirs and operatic/musical societies. I generally have music on in the house and it might be the local pop station or it might be a classical symphony. My tastes are quite wide-ranging  so when I saw this book in the library it seemed like an obvious pick.

The author, Susan Rodgers, is a musical engineer who worked with Prince on Purple Rain as well as a range of other artists and then moved into Neuro-Science. In the book she explores how people react differently to music and some of the reasons for this.

A lot of the book is about her personal experience and that of her friends and the students that she has taught and I found much of it fascinating. It’s not a difficult read and the sections where she moves into the Scientific basis for why things happen are perfectly understandable to a non-Scientist such as myself. I loved the personal anecdotes as well as the nuggets of information such as how Frank Sinatra turned himself into the amazing singer that he was.

The book is divided into chapters that focus on one element of music such as melody, lyrics etc which makes it easy to read. I particularly enjoyed those two chapters as I think that it’s the melody and lyrics that attract most of us to any particular piece of music. I know in  my case, nearly all of the pieces I love, whether classical or popular have a melody line that I can easily sing along too.

In each of the chapters, she discusses various tracks of music that illustrate the points that she is making and one of the things that I loved is that all of the tracks are available on a website. It was really helpful to be able to click on each of the songs and see how it fitted into the point that she was making. The songbook can be found at https://www.thisiswhatitsoundslike.com/songs

I’m not sure that the book actually gave me very many insights into why I like the music that I do or what it says about me, but it was certainly an enjoyable and fascinating read. As a non-specialist, I did learn a lot about how popular songs are created, how records are produced and how pop music in particular changes over time.

I would definitely recommend this for any one who enjoys popular music of any type and is interested in the hows and whys behind its creation.

This is the my second non-fiction book of 2023 and so it keeps me on track with my target of at least 6 non fiction books for the 2023 Non Fiction Reader Challenge

Poetry Challenge Week 9

This week’s poetry has been from a book that I bought when browsing in Waterstone’s last week. It’s a collection of poems by the British/Indian poet Nikita Gill. I didn’t realise when I bought it that it’s actually a YA collection. I have loved the poems that I’ve read so far and will certainly explore her adult poetry too.

The book is labelled as ‘an empowering, feminist collection’ and is about all the things that the poet wishes she had been told when she was younger. I loved the very first poem in the book. It’s only short but it’s something that I could really say to my daughter (or son).

Before We Begin………..

I cannot tell you
I have all the answers
There are still skeletons in my closet
I haven’t learned the names of yet.

Which is to say
I’m here for you
but I’m a work in progress
just like you.

Nikita Gill

This really sums up how I feel sometimes. As a mum, I feel that I should have all the answers for my children but I really don’t!

Poetry Challenge – Week 8

This week I have been reading 50 Poems to Open Your World collected by Padraig O’Tuama which I picked off the shelf at the library. It’s a collection of poems that Padraig (a poet himself) has chosen which reflect what it is to be alive today and each one is has a reflection on what that poem means to him. It’s mainly quite a modern collection and most of the poets I have never heard of but I’ve really enjoyed reading the wide range of poems in this book.

50 Poems to Open Your World collected by Padraig O’Tuama

One of the poems that stood out for me was this one by Trinidadian poet Roger Robinson.

A Portable Paradise

And if I speak of paradise,
then I’m speaking of my grandmother
who told me to carry it always
on my person, concealed, so
no-one else would know but me.
That way, they can’t steal it, she’d say.
And if life puts you under pressure.
trace its ridges in your pocket.
smell its piney scent on your handkerchief.
hum its anthem under your breath.
And if your stresses are sustained and daily,
get yourself to an empty room – be it hotel
hostel or hovel – and find a lamp
and empty your paradise onto a desk:
your white sands, green hills and fresh fish.
Shine the lamp on it like the fresh hope
of morning, and keep staring at it till you sleep

Roger Robinson

I love the idea of a portable paradise, one that you carry around with you where ever you go.





Poetry Reading Challenge Week 7

Week 7 of my challenge to read at least one poem a week. As this week saw the celebration of St Valentines Day, I thought that I would choose another poem from my book of collected love poems.

There are some gorgeous poems in there including classics by Shakespeare, John Donne and Christina Rossetti. In the end, I settled on this more modern one by Neil Gaiman .

Dark Sonnet
I don’t think I’ve been in love as such
Although I’ve liked a few folk pretty well

Love must be vaster than my smiles or touch
for brave men died and empires rose and fell.
For love, girls follow boys to foreign lands
and men have followed women into hell.
In plays and poems, someone understands
there’s something makes us more than blood and bone.

And more than biological demands for me, love’s like the wind
unseen, unknown.
I see the trees are bending where it’s been
I know that it leaves wreckage where it’s blown.

I really don’t know what ‘I love you’ means
I think it means Don’t leave me here alone.

Neil Gaiman

Happy reading everyone!

Poetry Reading Challenge – Week 6

Week 6 of my poetry challenge and I’m definitely getting to like the routine of just picking up a book of poems and reading for a few minutes. I discovered this beautiful book on my shelves and can’t believe that it’s just been sitting there for years. As it’s February, it seemed like an excellent choice for a month that includes Valentine’s Day.

This fairly unromantic poem for St Valentine’s day made me smile.

Valentine
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you
Whatever you’ve got lined up
My heart has made its mind up
And if you can’t be signed up
This year, next year will do
My heart has made its mind up
And I’m afraid it’s you

Wendy Cope

Hope you like the poem too. See you next week for week 7 πŸ’—πŸ’—

Poetry Challenge – Week 4

It’s the fourth week of my personal poetry challenge to try and read at least one poem a week during 2022. After finishing my book of Thomas Hardy’s poems which often had a sad, reflective tone, I thought I would go for something hopefully a bit more cheerful.

I bought this book a year ago in the Waterstones half price sale and until this week, it’s sat unopened on my bookshelf. This anthology is full of poems to lift you up and keep you going when things get tough because ‘Tomorrow is Beautiful’.

My favourite poem so far is one by Jackie Kay who is a Scottish poet so it seems appropriate to choose this one in the week when we celebrated Burn’s Night. It’s also very apt for New Year being all about those resolutions that we make.

Promise
Remember the time of year
when the future appears
like a blank sheet of paper
a clean calendar, a new chance
On thick white snow

You vow fresh footprints
then watch them go
with the wind’s hearty gust.
Fill your glass. Here’s tae us. Promises
made to be broken, made to last.

Jackie Kay

I love the fact that it’s OK not to keep those resolutions. Some promises are made to be broken, others will last.

Poetry Challenge Week 3

Week Three of my 2023 Poetry Challenge and I have finished reading my Thomas Hardy Collection. I skimmed over a couple of the really long poems but rediscovered one of my favourites which is especially appropriate for this week which has been cold and snowy.

Snow in the Suburbs
Every branch big with it
Bent every twig with it
Every fork like a white web-foot
Every street and pavement mute
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down, they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall

A sparrow enters the tree
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes
And overturns him
And near inurns him
And lights on a nether twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.

The steps are a blanched slope
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin
And we take him in.

Thomas Hardy pub 1925

I just love the images in this poem; the snowflakes meandering and drifting back up, the poor sparrow being overturned and nearly buried by the lump of snow and the thin cat seeking shelter. The rhymes make it easy to read and it seems hard to believe that it was written almost a hundred years ago.

I have loved reminding myself of the poems of Thomas Hardy. Next week I want to move on to something that is new to me though.