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 19 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.

You can’t have a collection of fantasy poems without including dragons somewhere. Most of the poetry featuring dragons is written for children but it doesn’t really matter who it’s written for if you enjoy it. Jack Prelutsky was one of my favourite poets to read aloud to my class when I was a full time class teacher and I love this dragon poem.

Once They all Believed in Dragons
Once they all believed in Dragons
When the world was fresh and young,
We were woven into legends,
Tales were told and songs were sung
We were treated with obeisance,
We were honoured, we were feared,
Then one day, they stopped believing –
On that day, we disappeared.
Now they say our time is over,
Now they say we’ve lived our last,
Now we’re treated with derision
Where once we ruled, unsurpassed.
We must make them all remember,
In some way, we must reveal
That our spirit lives forever —
We are dragons! We are real!
Jack Prelutsky

I just love this poem!

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 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.

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

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.

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 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.

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 💗💗

Reading Poetry Challenge Week 2

Week 2 of my poetry challenge and I have read a few more poems in the Thomas Hardy Collection. I am enjoying the slightly melancholic feel of many of these poems. I think that maybe I appreciate them more now that I am older as many of his poems are about things that he remembers from his youth.

One poem that really struck a chord this week was The Superseded. Hardy writes about how we have to step aside from things as we grow older to allow younger people to take our place. This is the natural order of things but still might be something that we regret. Being deemed too old to take part in something happened to me last year and it’s still a sad feeling to know that it is going on without me.

The Superseded
As newer comers crowd the fore
We drop behind
We who have laboured long and sore
Time out of mind
And keen are yet, must not regret
To drop behind

Yet there are some of us who grieve
To go behind
Staunch, strenuous souls who scare believe
Their fires declined
And know none spares, remembers, cares
Who go behind

Tis not that we have unforetold
The drop behind
We feel the new must oust the old
In every kind
But yet we think, must we, must we
Too, drop behind?

Thomas Hardy 1901

Over a hundred years later, this poem sums up exactly how I felt at the time and still feel now. This to me, is the beauty of poetry, that ability to capture feelings in words that stand the test of time.