#BookReview: All Her Starry Fates by Lady Grey @starryfates #starryfates

All_Her_Starry_Fates

About the Book

In all her starry fates, grey explores how the otherworldly relates to the everyday— with poems about love, loss, memory, inheritance, and belonging.

 

My Thoughts

I’ve always enjoyed reading poetry but have got out of the habit of picking up poetry collections in more recent years so I was thrilled when Anne Cater of Random Things Tours offered me the chance to read and review All Her Starry Fates for the blog tour.

I was expecting to enjoy reading this collection, and I really, really did,  but I wasn’t expecting it to speak to me in the way it did. I found part one of the collection really connected with me and I found I had to stop and really think about each poem before I moved on to the next one. There is one poem in particular that I haven’t stopped thinking about: ‘was i too hard on myself / or / not heart enough / – question’. I love the play on the sound of hard and heart and how they seem similar, but also how it makes you think about how hard you are on yourself and whether there was any heart there. There is a real theme of isolation and loneliness, and of trying to find the courage to seek your place in the world and it seemed to reflect so many of my own emotions at the time I was reading. It brought me a lot of solace.

I really enjoyed how for the most part the poems were free flowing without a set structure. Most of the poems don’t have a title at the top of the page but a lot of them do seem to have a short title, which also becomes a small conclusion, at the end of a poem. Some of the later poems do have titles at the top of the page, which made it feel like the characters throughout the poems were showing themselves more, were becoming more confident and I loved that.

Parts one and two seem to be more an exploration of feelings whereas the poems in the third part seem to be telling more of a story which encapsulate the emotion from the earlier poems. It felt to me like the people expressing their thoughts in the early poems could be the people whose stories where being told in the later poems. The following two parts are a mix of story and emotion, which brings the whole collection together. There is a real cohesion through the parts of this poetry collection: it feels like the collection as a whole is a musing on the things in between that matter to us and about finding where we belong. The themes of finding a place where you fit definitely runs throughout. There were poems that felt they were about a lover, others about a child; some were musings on life in general – the happy and the sad. All seem to be about being who you are: finding the courage to be yourself and not letting others bring you down or affect you.

All Her Starry Fates is a poetry collection that I would recommend to everyone as it’s very accessible but also has a real depth to it that can be enjoyed on many levels. I adored this collection and am so pleased that I had the chance to read it; it’s a book that will really stay with me and I know I will return again and again to these beautiful poems. I highly, highly recommend this collection.

 

All Her Starry Fates is out now in ebook and print and available here.

This blog tour was organised by Anne Cater at Random Things Tours. I received a free copy of the ebook. All thoughts are my own.

 


 

 

You can follow the rest of the blog tour at the following stops:

starry tour poster

 

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National Poetry Day 2015

Nat Poetry Day

I can’t believe that I’ve only just realised that today is National Poetry Day! I want to share a few poems from two of my favourite poets.

The first two are from Wendy Cope, whose work I adore. Wendy Cope has such a warm and wonderful style that makes every single one of her poems a joy to read. Some are amusing with a touch of sadness underneath when you stop and think, and others just really make you laugh. I have all of Cope’s collections and often just grab one of her books off my shelf to read some poems at random.

serious conserns tape

Flowers

Some men never think of it.
You did. You’d come along
And say you’d nearly bought me flowers
But something had gone wrong.

The shop was closed. Or you had doubts –
The sort that minds like ours 
Dream up incessantly. You thought
I might not want your flowers.

It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile. 
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.

I love this poem, there is much under the seeming simplicity of it. Sometimes I read it and think it’s a wry and cynical poem about an ex; sometimes I think it’s echoing the sentiment we all have that someone shouldn’t have when they do buy you something nice; and then other times it feels like it’s a poem about grief. Ultimately, it’s a poem about what someone almost had, and now they’re left with only memories. So from what seemed like quite a cheery poem at the start ends up feeling full of melancholy. I adore that about it because poetry should invoke strong feeling when you read it.

And my other favourite by her is:-

Lossserious concerns

The day he moved out was terrible –

That evening she went through hell.

His absence wasn’t a problem

But the corkscrew had gone as well.

I have sent a copy of this poem to so many friends over the years when they’ve been going through a break up, I just think it’s perfect!

My other favourite poet is Philip Larkin. I first read one his poems when it came up in my English A-Level class and I loved it. I then sought out all of his other works and devoured them. When it came to choosing a university I chose based on which one had the best opportunity for me to further study Larkin’s work. I have many favourite poems by him that I could pick but the first one that always comes to mind is this one.

whitsun weddings

Home Is So Sad 

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,

Shaped to the comfort of the last to go

As if to win them back. Instead, bereft

Of anyone to please, it withers so,

Having no heart to put aside the theft 

And turn again to what it started as,

A joyous shot at how things ought to be,

Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:

Look at the pictures and the cutlery.

The music in the piano stool. That vase.

The first time I read Home is so Sad I sobbed because it reminded me so much of going into my close relative’s house just after she’d died and everything was exactly as she’d left it. It was the weirdest feeling because I knew she was gone but it didn’t make sense when her cardigan was still over the back of her chair from where she’d left it just hours earlier. I’m sure many people will have the same feeling when they read this poem, that it could be about their own life. It still makes me emotional every time I read or hear this poem but poetry is supposed to have an impact on us and it’s a wonderful thing when something you’ve read many, many times can still give you goosebumps and make you cry.

Who are your favourite poets? What are some of your favourite poems? Please share them in the comments below, I’d love to hear your choices.

Review: Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin by Alan Bennett

six poets

Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin is a wonderful anthology of poetry; it’s a book that I know I will go back to time and time again. I was already a fan of Philip Larkin but I knew only little of the other five poets so it was a chance to learn more. Alan Bennett’s voice comes through as you read this anthology, his wonderful personality and enthusiasm run right through the book. It was fascinating to learn in the introduction that Bennett used to feel that ‘literature was a club of which I would never be a proper member’ and that there are still poets that he has never managed to read, and how hearing about them even now reminds him ‘how baffled one can feel in the face of books’. Immediately this is reassuring to anyone who picks this book up that they are in good hands, that this isn’t an academic book, this is a book for everyone to enjoy without needing any prior knowledge or understanding of poetry.

Alan Bennett selected over seventy poems from six poets –  Thomas Hardy, A. E. Housman, John Betjeman, W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice and Philip Larkin for this anthology. Each poet is introduced with a brief biography, which is followed by selected poems interspersed with candid commentary. The way the book is set out, with the poets being written about in chronological order, allows the reader to easily understand how one poet was influenced or inspired by his predecessor. Some of the poems Bennett has chosen from one poet link together with poems form another in the anthology, which again makes it easy to grasp common themes and how each poet put his own stamp on a sometimes similar idea.

Bennett strikes a great balance between serious biographical information and amusing anecdotes. We learn that Larkin ordered that all his papers be destroyed after his death; that Hardy wrote a poem in tribute to the wife he treated terribly when she was alive, and then proposed to his second wife by pointing out a plot in the cemetery next to his first wife’s grave and explaining that it would be hers! Auden couldn’t bear to edit his work so he would take the best of what he’d been working on and put it together with his favourite lines saved from his other unfinished works and make it work as a single poem!

Six Poets was an utter joy to read. I thought I would enjoy the part on Larkin the most seeing as he is one of my favourite poets already but Bennett introduced the other five poets in such a way that I very much enjoyed reading about them too and feel that I have a better understanding now. It’s actually made me want to seek out more poetry, and how wonderful that is when a book can make you enthusiastic to want to find out more on a subject that has previously felt a little intimidating!

I rate this book ten out of ten and I can’t recommend this book highly enough!

Six Poets: From Hardy to Larkin is out today on Amazon.

I received this book from Yale University Press via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

Review: Accidental Emeralds by Vivienne Tuffnell

Version 2

This is a wonderful collection of poetry, it really does capture the feeling of longing in a beautiful and thought-provoking way.

I have to admit to having a favourite poem – Autumn Leaf. This poem just captured so much of how I’m feeling at the moment, not just as we approach the end of summer and the change of season into autumn but the many changes in my own life that I’m having to come to terms with. I just felt a feeling of not being alone in my struggles wash over me on reading these lines:

How long I may travel

I shall not know

Until I begin to sink;

The source and the sea,

They are still certain,

But the journey,

As you know, is not.

I also took a lot from Mind Mountains for similar reasons to Autumn Leaf. Just the much needed reminder that however much my own life contains me, there is so much more beyond the garden fence than my own thoughts.

Spring is…? was also a lovely poem, one that made me smile. I loved the line ‘It changes the rules and snows in May’ because that is just so much of how life is. Unpredictable and yet somehow still beautiful.

And of course I adored Urban Springtime as it gave insight into the title for this collection. Accidental emeralds is such a lovely title and to know where it comes from is a much-needed reminder that there is beauty even in things that are broken. This poem in particular will stay with me, it’s something to cling to.

Overall the collection can be enjoyed at face value as a group of poems about the changing seasons, but deeper than that is the underlying reminder that things change, things break, things pull you in different directions but there is still something beautiful in all of it if we just sit a while and take it all in.

A 10/10 star read.