National Poetry Day 2012

4th Oct 2012

National Poetry Day 2012

It’s National Poetry Day! A fantastic time to show some appreciation for the world’s finest poets, whether they’re long gone or just starting out. This year, we took to Twitter to ask you all about your favourite women poets.

Expecting a few responses,  instead we got an epic onslaught of answers, leaving us astounded by the passion and love so many of you feel for poetry. There is no better proof that poetry is indeed still alive and well in our nation.

Poetry is unique from a novel or short story, in the sense that a narrative must be established with, typically, a significantly shorter amount of time than any other form.

We can all write truly terrible poetry (I only need check my teenage to confirm that), but it takes a true and unique talent to write the mind-altering, powerful and emotional poetry we’re celebrating today. So let’s take a look at some of your suggestions…

Anne Sexton was amongst the most appreciated poets in your replies to us for a variety of reasons. @bluevespertine particularly recommended Her Kind: “confessional poetry at it’s best”. Sexton’s collection Transformations was also recommended for us, and it seems like perfect reading for anyone interested in the rewriting of fairy tales.

Dorothy Parker was another heavily recommended poet, with  @NumberOneTwit suggesting Song Of One Of The Girls and One Perfect Rose for a starting point for her “wit and darkness”. Anyone interested in reading more should be sure to check out The Collected Dorothy Parker  for a fantastically comprehensive introduction to her work.

Of course Emily Dickinson was shown a lot of love, with @DollyDelightly recommending Seminal Lines for your reading pleasure. @Hila_Katz observed how she “can knock you over with a single profound line” due to her insightful prose and originality. You can find Dickinson’s poetry for free if you have an e-reader, and for the book collector, you can’t go wrong with Complete Poems for a truly solid collection of her classic poetry.

Edna St. Vincent Millay was the very first suggestion we got, and she continued to be popular throughout. @HoustenMargaret loves her for her “simple words, simple form and profound emotions”, and Prayer To Persephone is a perfect example of this. If you like this poem, you can find a great collection of her work in Poems: Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Mary Elizabeth Frye was suggested by our own @kellipandaaa for her classic emotional prose. Most famous is her war classic Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep for it’s stunning portrayal of grief and acceptance. While it’s tricky finding any complete works of her poetry, this musical and spoken word war memorial collection We Will Remember Them includes Britain’s favourite Joanna Lumley reciting this much-loved piece of prose.

For Books’ Sake favourite Margaret Atwood cropped up a fair few times as you’d imagine. With her recent celebrations of Wattpad and the founding of the Atty Awards, Atwood’s poetry has gained as much prominence as her internationally renowned fiction. @craftygreenpoet showed her love for Atwood by saying “every word counts”, and to read a perfect examples, be sure to read Wattpad’s exclusive Atwood collection Thriller Suite: New Poems.

@Fictavia suggested Liz Lochhead, with a particular fondness for An Abortion, which depicts the agony of a cow aborting a malformed calf. @ekreeder told us to check out Katie Ford for her simplistic, transporting prose, and Anne Carson for confounding brilliance and intrigue.

Alice Oswald was praised by @cherylsf, with particular reference to the collection Weeds and Wild Flowers. @jenniferheidi also suggested we check out Fleur Adcock, in particular Poem Ended By A Death, and Ann Caldwell, whose collection Talking With The Dead has received great praise.

Still not got enough to check out? Other recommendations included Wendy Cope, Elizabeth Bishop, Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Clare Pollard, Carol Ann Duffy, Ros Barber, Katrina Naomi, Sophie Mayer, Abi Curtis, Sharon Olds, Jo Shapcott, Pascale Petit, Christina Rossettiand Kathleen Norris!

A big thanks to everyone that contributed to this list, and we hope you have a very happy, poetic National Poetry Day!

Have we missed your favourite poet from this list? What recommendations can you add?

Gina Kershaw

Image via Julie Jordan Scott