National Poetry Day is here again. To me it’s official reassurance that autumn has arrived. Time to bin the flip flops and crack the spine of a brand new poetry book. The theme for this year’s National Poetry Day is ‘water, water everywhere’. Here are some Picador Poetry collections connected to water.
The Drowned Book by Sean O’Brien
The industrial northern landscape O’Brien evokes is dark, flooded, murky and menacing. The poet Peter Porter described The Drowned Book as ‘fierce, funny and deeply melancholy’. It won both the T S Eliot Prize and Forward Prize for Best Collection when it was published in 2007. Here’s the opening of the poem ‘River-doors’:
River-doors are not sea-doors. They open
Through mirrors and library shelves,
Through glasshouse sweat and damp attic walls.
The Overhaul by Kathleen Jamie
The Overhaul is, among many other things, a meditation on place. Jamie writes about the natural world and the edges of things; the liminal places – beach, bridge and coast – where land and water meet. The Overhaul won the 2012 Costa Poetry Award and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. Kate Kellaway, writing in the Observer: ‘Her poetry is to be admired as one might a winter garden for its outline, clarity and light . . . What she is after is the unmediated – nothing, including words, must get in the way of what she sees’.
Public Dream by Frances Leviston
This collection does not take water as a theme, but there is one poem in Public Dream that uses water of various kinds as part of a language of dreaming. This poem, the last of the collection, is called ‘Scandinavia’. The poem is populated with mutable substances, effects and surfaces that are both there and not quite perceptible – snow, wind, water, rain, and ‘the shift of the sea’. Thought is given transitory form in this dream-like poem. Public Dream was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, the Jerwood-Aldeburgh Prize and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. You can read Scandinavia here.