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A few poets worth reading

We all have comfort blankets or objects, right? Well this week, it became obvious that the Scribble has comfort poets! Ranging from the classics to the contemporary, here's a few we recommend:

Last week I talked about W.H. Auden. This week we’re going to talk about another one: Blake Auden.

I sometimes envy the people who can curl up with a book of poetry, slip inside the pages and lose themselves. I’ve read books of poetry but generally they only engage me enough to dip in randomly, or to scan the index for something interesting sounding. On the occasions where I have read a collection cover to cover, it’s felt more like an exercise in getting from A to B. It doesn’t help that I’ve slogged through poetry collections that I profoundly disliked. (Sorry Bluets by Maggie Nelson, I really hated you.)

Social media has made poetry more accessible to us unblessed ones. Last year I stumbled across a poet who caught my eye and continued to catch my eye until, eventually, I started following him. Auden manages to be contemporary without being pretentious; he writes simple, beautiful lines without looking like he’s put a lot of effort into trying to write something profound.

Auden chooses strong topics to write about, such as the classic ‘lost love’; we’ve all felt that particular agony and he captures those emotions and that sentiment masterfully. There’s something otherworldly and fascinating about taking pain and encasing it in beauty. If you could preserve in glass that void moment between pulses when you can’t draw breath and your heart feels like it might never beat again - that’s a little bit what his poetry feels like for me. Auden also writes about his relationship with depression; another one that strongly resonates with me. When I read a poem that perfectly describes how I have felt, that’s when it captures my interest.

The other thing that keeps me coming back to his work is the simplicity of this writing. It’s brief, it’s simple and it gives the impression of coming honestly from the heart, not strategically from the head. I love his gift for powerful imagery. I love how unaffected his voice feels. I can immerse myself in his work in a way that is rare to me.

Auden posts extracts of his pieces on Instagram at @blakeaudenpoetry. Check him out.

There are a million incredible poets to choose from and I had a particularly difficult time settling on just one. So often, my favourite poet or poetry comes down to my mood and what resonates with me the most but I think that, no matter my mood, Neil Hilborn will always be one of my favourites.

The first time I experienced his poetry, I watched a video of him performing his poem, Joey, and have followed his work ever since. Joey is an interesting poem, about the difference wealth and financial security have when people struggle with mental health. It's a work that has always stuck with me, not only for Hilborn's talent with words, but for the point he makes.

Often, with performance poets, I find I am disappointed when it comes to just reading their work, however, reading Hilborn's poetry offers an opportunity to view it from a different angle and to see other details. Some of his poems I even prefer written, rather than spoken, which surprised me as I've always preferred spoken poetry. I find his poetry to be accessible, with a refreshing lack of superiority to it. His poetry is easy to understand and relate to, which is a quality I often prefer in writing. No one likes to read the ramblings of a smartass, right?

Neil Hilborn is one of many incredible poets. His poetry is consistently enjoyable, even when it's heartbreaking and I really can't recommend it enough!

I can’t recommend just one poet. However, there are certain poets that I find myself turning to, depending on my mood and what I need at any given time.

When I’m feeling in need of a good dose of healthy realism, I turn to Philip Larkin. He lived in Hull, which is where I’m from, so I relate to his external landscapes, and he was the sort of poet who didn’t shy away from difficult feelings. Larkin can be relied upon to say the unsayable, and yet he was capable of moments of breathtaking emotional beauty. I recommend Aubade and An Arundel Tomb as examples, as well as the iconic This Be The Verse.

When I need to luxuriate in sensory splendour, I turn to Keats. To Autumn is an absolute trip of a poem; heady, sensual and atmospheric.

When I need a metaphorical shot in the arm, it has to be Maya Angelou. I can’t read Still I Rise or Phenomenal Woman without a smile on my face and a swagger in my step.

And if I need a bit of a cry, it has to be Seamus Heaney…anyone who can read Spring Break without at least having to have a little sit down afterwards is a stronger person than me.

There are countless others I could have mentioned, but the four above never, ever fail me.


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Cover image by Jr Korpa via Unsplash


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