Poetry Friday: Bright Star

One of the interesting things about collecting poetry from staff for National Poetry Day last week was that the majority of poems had a meaning from childhood. They were ems studied at school, that they had been made to learn by heart or that they remembered being read to in a classroom. It made me think a little about the poetry that I expose my students to. Is it always something that I think will have this kind of resonance? Is it poetry that I think should have some wider echo in their lives, become a ‘gobbet’ as Hector in The History Boys …

Poetry Friday: Eurydice

As it was National Poetry Day yesterday, I asked colleagues at work for their favourite poems and stuck them up around the building. It’s been really great seeing what choices people make – I’ve read some poems I’ve never heard of before, re-read some gorgeous ones, and remembered some from when I was little that either people remember or they read with their children It’s also been fascinating when people have given me reasons for their choices. A lot of the time it’s been something they studied at school or something that they had to memorise (not something we do …

Poetry Friday: The Hug

Next week is National Poetry Day. I’ve been gathering some poems from colleagues, partly for display and partly for a quiz for students – am thinking kind of a treasure hunt, though not sure about encouraging them to maraud around the school 😉 I probably won’t put this one in (I’m not sure which I’ll choose yet!) but I love reading it with sixth form as part of the Love through the Ages unit. This, to me, is love. It’s creeping into bed with a lover with whom you’re so familiar that you just fit, every inch.  It’s pressing together because you just need that …

Poetry Friday: Winter Swans (Owen Sheers)

I love this collection – Skirrid Hill. It’s a strange combination of ideas, exploring a range of family poetry (the death of Sheers’ mother, relationships between son and father) and a lovers’ relationship. Some of those poems in particular veer from the erotic imagery of making love on the floor so hard she bears the scars of the floorboards, to the valentine’s dinner in Paris, and the heart-breaking Keyways, musing on the irony of cutting keys for the first time so you can pick up items from the other’s flat following a break-up. I dipped in and out of the collection …

Poetry Friday: In an Artist’s Studio (Christina Rossetti)

Christina Rossetti’s poem about her brother – and more importantly, his muse Lizzie Siddal. I came across it a couple of years ago when the BBC series about the Pre-Raphaelite movement was on, and I was looking for love poetry for one of my sixth form lessons. This poem is certainly about love, but it’s a very unbalanced, dangerous love that is being reflected. Rossetti isn’t openly critical of her brother’s attitude towards his lover – more, she seems to understand it yet pity the muse who is impossibly stuck in the relationship, unable to change it with a lover …

Poetry Friday: The ABC (Spike Milligan)

A lovely antidote to last week’s sad affair! One of the fabulous things about literature, and poetry in particular, is that there’s something suitable for all occasions and this is a great cheerful poem from a great nonsense writer. I’m not often a fan of nonsense poetry – as a writer and teacher I love searching for hidden meanings, and the way that poetry expresses emotions in perfect little translucent bubbles of language.