It 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.
Where 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.
They 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:
So, dear reader, which poet do you recommend?