My five poets challenge

Logo of National Poetry DayIt is well known that my high school English teachers almost killed poetry for me. However, I never quite gave up on it and I am always very happy when I stumble upon a new poem. These serendipitous discoveries usually occur when I’m reading a book or watching a film.

But National Poetry Day is coming up and I have decided that 2014 will be the year of my five poets challenge. This year I am going to seek out five poets that I didn’t ‘do’ in high school English and read them for the sheer pleasure of reading poetry.

Cover of Sam Hunt's KnucklebonesWhere should I begin? I love hearing Sam Hunt reading poetry, but I have read very few of his poems. I think he should go on my list.

I always wanted to read  Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. I like the opening two lines: “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree”. I don’t think I read Coleridge in high school English. Maybe that should go on my list too.

Cover of The Darling NorthThey say you should never judge a book by its cover.  However I do like to cover of  The Darling North by Anne Kennedy. In 2013 she  won the New Zealand Post Book Poetry Award. I reserved a copy of her book and it has just arrived, so she is on my list.

When I was still living in Melbourne, I went through a Merlin and King Arthur fad. I read everything I could lay hand to and I bought a shabby second hand copy of Tennyson‘s Idylls of the King. Before I got around to reading it, my Arthurian fad passed and the book collected dust on the bookshelf. If I read Tennyson in school, I can’t have been paying much attention. There are 12 poems in The Idylls of the King, which is  based on Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur and the Mabinogion. I own both of these books. I could re-read these two books or I could read Tennyson. I think I’ll read Tennyson.

What about my fifth poet? One of my grandfathers liked the poem The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I haven’t read that particular poem, but we did ‘do’ Longfellow at school, so I guess I’ll have to leave him for later.

Edgar Allan Poe wrote short stories which I read in form two and form three English, however I have never read his poetry.  Jasper Fforde often referred to The Raven in his Thursday Next books, but I’m not sure I want to read a book of his poems.

World War I started 100 years ago and amid the death and destruction, there was some very emotional poetry written.  Though we didn’t ‘do’ the war poets in English, we did read them in 20th century Australian History.  If I chose a war poet, you might think I was cheating, so I’ll leave them on the shelf for you.

T0 find my final poet I’ll:

  1. Check the catalogue.
  2. Look up Poetry & Short Story Reference Center in the Source.
  3. Ask you.

So, dear reader, which poet do you recommend?




12 thoughts on “My five poets challenge

  1. Gallivanta 6 August 2014 / 3:40 pm

    Ursula Bethell, Basil Dowling, Ruth Dallas.

  2. Paula Green 6 August 2014 / 4:16 pm

    What a great idea! I love it! Do check out my blogs on Poetry day. NZ Poetry Box for children and NZ Poetry Shelf for adults.

  3. Linda Connell 6 August 2014 / 7:19 pm

    Try Billy Collins, Robert Bly or Ted Kooser, great US poets. Or Carol Anne Duffy, British poet, fab.

  4. ValerieL 6 August 2014 / 10:59 pm

    Oh wow, so many choices! You have given me months of poetry and I’m not yet finished with Sam Hunt!

  5. ValerieL 11 August 2014 / 4:08 pm

    I have made a start with my challenge. No sitting up straight, no putting a stress on the words that the teacher underlined. Oh no. I slumped and slouched. I drank coffee and read Sam Hunt my way. I would prefer it if he read his poems to me. I think I’ll watch the DVD ‘Purple balloon and other stories’ before moving on.

  6. ruby2shoesnz 13 August 2014 / 10:56 am

    Impressed with your post Valerie.
    I so enjoy Sam Hunt reading his poems with that wonderful gravelly voice.

  7. ValerieL 13 August 2014 / 1:35 pm

    Someone very kindly returned “The Darling North”, so I’ll read it next. Coleridge is on loan at the moment and I left Tennyson on the coffee table at home. Still don’t know what to finish up with. JK Baxter was recommended to me today.

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