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To Look Into The Core

Updated: Apr 17, 2021

9th April 2021

'Read Me A Poem a Day for the National Year of Reading.'

Chosen by Gaby Morgan, pp 278-283.

OK so why is a serious reader of poetry like me reading what looks like a children's book of daily poems. Well the answer is simple and quite clever. It is my doorway into starting reading. Some days, like today, I am just itching to read my next fill of Fran Lock poetry, but often I don't know where to begin, so I have my starter daily books.

I began reading this book (and the Shakespeare) on 1 November 2020, which represents the first day of my retirement (two years earlier) . Every year I task myself with doing a certain number of hours of reading and I start the clock on this day. This book has been wonderful. In today's batch there was poems by Carol Ann Duffy, Grace Nichols, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jackie Kay, Langston Hughes, sat alongside a regular Anon. I had 6 days to catch up, as I had concentrated so much on writing the brand new website! That said, it only took a few minutes.

I did a lot of poetry reading and listening from 2010 to 2014 (-ish), before deciding to knock it on the head to complete my pension. I have returned to reading now I am retired. Lockdown was awful, obviously. My father died from Covid-19 in March 2020 right at the beginning of it all. On the other hand, it helped me to concentrate my mind. As there was nowhere to go, I have found a place to be by reading poetry again.

During that last poetry phase (there have been many but 2010-2014 was especially enjoyable) I got to see both Carol Ann Duffy and Jackie Kay. That's the wonderful thing about poetry compared with say, football or rock music, it is still relatively easy to not only see your heroes but also to go up and have a few words of chat with them afterwards!

Jackie Kay's poem here is called 'Divorce' and in the wrong hands reads as a very dark tale of divorcing your parents. I am fairly certain Jackie Kay loved her adoptive parents, so perhaps this is intended as a cathartic tale where children can agree in their anger when reading the poem before bed at night only to wake up in the morning refreshed!

'Father, your breath

smells like a camel's and it gives me the hump!'

Seeing the Anons in this collection I always grieve for the lost name. How sad for the person that their immortalised words have become mortally detached. Here Anon is talking about an apple...

'It's nice to think, though many an eye

Has seen the ruddy skin,

Mine is the very first to spy

The five brown pips within.'

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The commission is an unusual beast, someone asks for a poem on a subject, the poet goes away and thinks about it and comes up with the goods. Today I heard Ian McMillan's poem for 'The Front Page' BBC


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