Looking back at when I was first hooked by verse, I remember that one of the main, unexpected attractions were the sudden jolts of recognition that I encountered in certain poems that my teachers offered up. Those jolts were addictive and they still are. They excite me by opening up new trains of thought about my own life, while also consequently signposting poets who are going to stay with me.
Here's an example. I make no bones about featuring Tom Duddy once more, because he's exceptional. Full stop. Here's the opening to his poem "Their Child" from The Hiding Place (Arlen House, 2011):
"It takes me half a second too long
to get their names out, though I knew
who they were the moment they stepped
out of the crowd, hailing me cheerfully..."
This might be unassuming language, but what about that jolt? Can you feel it too?
They can do wonders in the NHS. No question. But as singers through the ages have told us there are things they can’t do. Leonard Cohen was clear enough: ...