Poets are not useful

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poets are not useful

Last Free on: 10th Mar 17
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...it speaks clearly and distinctly about sexism, prejudice and difficult subjects like child abuse without flinching or sparing the reader...

Part memoir part musings, this is a collection of modern poems with short lines and no rhymes. Written in reaction to an off-hand comment made to the author at a party, the writing is strong, emotional and evocative conveying her total rejection of the idea.

The book’s conceit is the “Poet as…” structure, which is the title of each work. Through roles, to fairytales, to mythology, to the author’s own life, it uses poetry to explore the role of poetry in life. Focusing mainly on what it means to be a woman, it speaks clearly and distinctly about sexism, prejudice and difficult subjects like child abuse without flinching or sparing the reader. Emotions come across clearly: rage, tiredness, frustration and the constant opposition of hope against knowledge and experience. Many of the obstacles and issues she raises will be familiar to any writer, such as her protest that she was forced to publish under her initials: even Joanne Rowling had to invent a middle initial K. to get Harry Potter published. Others, such as the retelling of fairytales like Red Riding Hood, will speak to almost everyone.

The formatting is off: there are some odd page breaks on Kindle for PC, and some poems have unexplained blank pages in the middle. However the poems still flow and can be followed. The cover to my mind doesn’t quite fit the themes, but I’m honestly not sure what would.

Gwyndyn Alexander is an excellent modern poet. Poetry readers should give this a look, particularly if they are also authors. I’d also suggest this for Young Adult readers, as many of the themes tackled will speak very clearly to them.

Rating: 4
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Tregaron (28 December 2015)
The Red Riding Hood poem was excellent, and far, far, too true to life, but I'm sure that this book was discussed last year and got a great review then.

Reader (28 December 2015)
I thought the same. For me, there weren't any standout poems but the theme was clever and consistent enough to make it worth reading.

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