Out of a Facebook conversation about living British poets we love, a friend and I decided to lend each other our favourites-right-now. He lent me Jacob Sam-La Rose’s Breaking Silence, the long-brewed full length collection from published by Bloodaxe, and I will soon be parting with one of my birthday presents, Playing House, the debut collection by Katherine Stansfield, published by Seren. I’m nervous to see what my friend thinks of Playing House just because it feels personal — partly because I know Katherine from her days lecturing at my uni but mostly in that way that you do feel defensive when you lend someone a book/CD/Film which you like a lot. And I liked both these books a lot, in very different ways.
Stansfield’s collection is much shorter, giving much more time to wallow in each poem, whereas with Breaking Silence I felt like I had to come up for air before diving back into each section. Sam-La Rose’s poems all feel personal and strongly felt, too, which maybe added to the intensity of the reading experience. I’m part way through my second reading and I feel like I’ll need many more to really get to know the poems. I’ve seen ‘Faith’ performed by Sam-La Rose, and there are plenty of videos of him performing other poems from the collection online, and it’s always good to have the opportunity to experience a good poem in a new way. Playing House goes to some pretty dark, intense places, don’t get me wrong, but Stansfield skips between many different viewpoints, some which feel personal and others more distant, some poignant and others comic, and I think that this variety, as well as the length, makes it an easier ‘read-in-one-sitting’ collection, if you’re so inclined, although you’ll be rewarded for going back for more.
This video is brilliant for anybody who wants to be a poet, and I think a lot of it could apply to anybody who wants to do something which seems difficult and overwhelming but also full of possibilities.
trashy entertaining women’s weekly magazines on a Friday night. Because sometimes you need to look after your mental health and pictures of the high street’s new fringed handbags and articles on body confidence are the way to do it.
Whether it’s bookswaps with friends, fringed handbags or the Great British Bake Off, I hope your (mental) health had a good week.