In February, I borrowed two very enjoyable poetry books from the library, and thought that a joint post would work quite well, despite the fact the books in question are so different. One is quite a fun and imaginative work by Ted Hughes, and the other is a compilation of First World War poetry by women.
Meet My Folks! by Ted Hughes ****
I spotted this whilst searching for The Tales of Beedle the Bard, and it looked too adorable to pass up. Meet My Folks! was Ted Hughes’ first work for children, and it is the first of his young poetry collections which I have read. It originally contained eight poems, and more have been added over various reprintings, to make thirteen in total. It is consequently quite a slim volume, and is only just over sixty pages long. In the poems, Hughes has written about rather an unusual family and certainly creates an interesting mixture of characters, from his sister Jane, who is really a crow, to his grandfather, who collects live owls. The rhyme scheme which Hughes has used works well, and the accompanying illustrations are charming. Meet My Folks! is sweet, silly, enjoyable and is certain to charm both children and those who are refusing to grow up.
Scars Upon My Heart: Women’s Poetry and Verse of the First World War, edited by Catherine Reilly ****
I was so impressed to find this lovely Virago, which looked like it had never been read before, upon the non-fiction shelves. I adore First World War poetry, but have read barely any poems by women written about the conflict. Indeed, there are many poets within this collection whom I had never heard of before I started to read.
Reilly has included the work of seventy nine female poets in total, and the scope of the book is absolutely marvellous in consequence. The preface, written by Judith Kazantzis, is measured and intelligent, and well describes the overbearing and stifling enormity of war. She writes that the anthology ‘fills a poignant gap’, and that ‘these women poets speak for the women whose own lives were often blighted by that miserable loss’ of their generation. Reilly’s introduction too is wonderfully informative.
Scars Upon My Heart is such a lovely volume, filled with beautiful and startling verse, and I love the fact that there is a companion volume about Second World War poetry written by women. It is fascinating to be able to see such a conflict from the female perspective – particularly apt in its centenary year – and to see how wartime attitudes differed. I would heartily recommend Scars Upon My Heart to anyone with any hint of interest in the First World War.