Title: Ariel

Author: Sylvia Plath

Summary: Ariel, first published in 1965, contains many of Sylvis Plath’s best-known poems, written in an extraordinary burst of creativity just before her death in 1963. This is the collection on which her reputation as one of the most original and gifted poets of the twentieth century rests.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆ 1.5/5

Review: I’m aware i’m not well-versed in poetry, but i do keep trying. This, however, has been my most unsuccessful attempt yet. What the hell was this?

Plath is so revered as a writer and a poet, the reviews of this collection are flooded with four and five stars. I read The Bell Jar and i loved the prose, the writing style, the depth and emotion. But here, in these poems, i didn’t feel that. I didn’t feel… much of anything, to be honest.

I love the lyricism of poetry, the often ambiguous meaning but a more intense sentiment. I love that they can mean different things to different people, and even different things to the same person at different points in their life. I really enjoy music and lyrics for the same reason. Someone once pointed out to me that songs are poetry set to music, and i’d never considered that before, but i love it.

These poems, though, lacked any kind of lyricism to me. They didn’t flow, they didn’t convey emotional depth or meaning. I felt i needed some sort of key or cipher to translate and understand what i was reading–it read like gibberish! If anything, i felt confused and amused by most of it.

The other does that,
His hair long and plausive,
Masturbating a glitter,
He wants to be loved.

…How the hell does one ‘masturbate a glitter’?

Three days. Three nights.
Lemon water, chicken
water, water make me retch

…Is it some kind of terrible cook book?

In eight great bounds, a great scapegoat.
Here is his slipper, here is another,
And here the square of white linen
He wore instead of a hat.
He was sweet

…Yeah, he sounds lovely?

I’m sure in some way, to someone, these poems make sense. The tens of thousands of positive reviews mean i must be one of the few people they don’t make sense to. Alas.


Popshot Magazine: The Adventure Issue

wp-1472915662992.jpegTitle: Popshot Magazine: The Adventure Issue

Author: Various

Summary: Popshot is an illustrated literary magazine that publishes short stories, flash fiction, and poetry from the literary new blood.

From the pavement to the pubs to the playhouses, our peculiar little planet is full of storytelling. Popshot aims to publish just a few of the more articularte and well-observed versions of these stories, illustrated by some of contemporary illustration’s finest.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 4/5

Review: My partner bought this for me randomly, thinking it would be something i’d enjoy. It is. A collection of short stories and poems, beautifully illustrated and brought to life. This magazine is wonderful.

It started off strong with two sci-fi stories. Shadows, the tale of two spacemen who get lost in darkness and time and aren’t quite sure they make it out unscathed. Seventh, set following an unspecified apocalyptic event, follows a girl travelling, trying to find the one person left who means something to her.

All the stories here include–i’m hesitant to say twist, as it’s not always as shocking as that implies, but they have something. The end reveals enough to change to mood of the entire story, to give more meaning and depth to everything you’ve already read. And that is how the best short stories are told.

A young girl accused of being a spy, or an elderly lady in a hospital? A shipwrecked man gradually exploring a trail of islands, or going backwards and forwards between two? A young boy leading his little sister into a dangerous situation, or attempting to share a touching moment they’ll remember forever?

My favourite story was Bucket List, in which a group of strangers share a balloon ride that turns dangerous. One of them saves the day and completes his bucket list at the same time. It actually brought tears to my eyes, which is quite a feat for a short story!

I’m not a poem buff, and they were more hit and miss for me here. I enjoyed several, while others feel flat for me. Without a doubt, though, the last poem–and final piece in the magazine–was the best. Some Other Day just captured something wonderful about personal growth, about change, and about leaving parts of ourselves behind.

Standout throughout the magazine is the artwork. Each piece is gorgeous in itself, but they both give and receive so much in relation to the words they represent. They string the stories and poems together and make the magazine as a whole a piece of art.

This was issue number 15 of Popshot magazine, and i’m extremely tempted to subscribe for future issues. They seem so wonderfully light, interesting and beautiful; i want more.

Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis

cocoaTitle: Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis

Author: Wendy Cope

Summary: Already well known for her hilarious send-ups of contemporary writers, Wendy Cope is perhaps the most accomplished parodist since Beerbohm. This first full-length collection includes work by Jason Strugnell, the subject of the Radio Three programme, Shall I Call Thee Bard?, as well as other parodies and literary jokes. There are, in addition, telling lyrics and a number of remarkable love poems–candid, sometimes erotic, and very funny indeed.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆ 2/5

Review: I’ll admit straight away that i only read this book to tick off a couple of boxes on my Bookish Bingo. I can’t recall having heard of Wendy Cope before and I’m not a connoisseur of poetry… so it was highly unlikely this endeavour was going to end in anything above three stars.

I’m particular when it comes to poetry and verse. I like either dramatic and epic, like Shakespeare and Poe, or silly and rhyming, like limericks. Some of the poems in this book, on the whole, are walking a line somewhere close to silly and rhyming, but while still being meaningful. Others were just silly enough for me. Others still just baffled me, to be honest… i didn’t “get” a lot of them.

My favourites were definitely the nursery rhyme parodies. Baa Baa Black Sheep in the style of William Wordsworth and Hickory Dickory Dock in the style of T.S. Eliot. They were clever and funny and perfect. I could happily have a read an entire book of those. (Still craving an E.E. Cummings nursery rhyme, not going to lie.) I also really enjoyed the love poems, ‘From June to December’ and ‘My Lover’. These are the poems i can see myself wanting to go back and re-read.

The rest… the rest i was pretty unimpressed with. None of them were bad, per se; i didn’t dislike any of them. I just didn’t like them, either. I’m sure a factor in this is that i’m not too familiar with the some of the work, writers and themes Cope was toying with. So, while the poems read fine to me, they failed to interest me because i was missing their depth.

I’m unlikely to buy more of Cope’s work, but i will certainly remember and re-read the few poems i genuinely loved.

This knocks two squares off my Bookish Bingo: Author with your first name and author with your initials.

The Little Book of Vegan Poems

littlebookofvegampoemsTitle: The Little Book of Vegan Poems

Author: Benjamin Zephaniah

Summary: Benjamin Zephaniah dedicated this collection of 22 new poems to “the caring, dedicated young vegans of the world…who will not stand for any exploitation whatever the species.” Filled with the unique “radical rapper” poems that Zephaniah is famous for, this book also includes an extensive contact list of international vegan and animal rights organisations.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 3/5

Review: This was a quick little read. I found it in the room i’ve been staying in over Easter while visiting relatives. The cover attracted my attention (minimalism ♥) and the subject matter gained my interest. It’s short, at 41 pages, and only took me half an hour to read.

The topic of veganism was the most interesting thing for me and these poems explore several aspects of veganism. The fact that eating meat is so ingrained in our culture that no one thinks to question it and the idea that causing harm to other beings should never be so easily accepted and taught. The fact that all beings are equal; animals are just trying to get on with their lives and that humans aren’t in any way better than them.

Some of the poems I really liked. Some for their message, some for their style, some for the fact they made me laugh. Others I was less enamoured with. Some fell flat, some used language in a way that just didn’t work for me, some were just okay.

Benjamin Zephaniah is known more for his dub poetry, and although I’ve not seen him perform, I think these poems would work much better read live. With emphasis, inflexion, personality and energy. I just think they would hit their mark more accurately and punch much higher.

I think this book is a nice reference piece or accompaniment, but as a stand alone is lacking something.

This knocks two squares off my Bookish Bingo: Chosen because of its cover and a book of poetry.