Like a lot of people, I struggle to retain poetry. While writers like Simon Armitage are retelling epic poems, those that we most commonly encounter recall a single scene or a feeling, a thought or sensation, and there isn’t a full narrative that we can take away and discuss over dinner with friends in the way we’ll discuss novels and plays.
My children loved Edward Lear’s The Owl and the Pussycat who went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat, and can still quote it, but the other poems we used to read are long forgotten. It’s no coincidence that my own favourite has always been The Farmer’s Bride by Charlotte Mew. Like Lear, she tells a story, though that is the only characteristic the two writers have in common!
Creating a library of poems for Tricycle Readers (we will analyse one short story and one poem each week) has been a revelation. I go back to the same pieces time and again and the closer I look, and the more I say the words aloud, the more I understand and retain them. It’s like prising open an oyster shell very gently and agitating the mollusc in order to release its pearl.
This week, Tricycle Readers went live and there’s been a surge of interest, which is very exciting. The first group members have signed up and we have just a handful of places left. I’m guessing many of the group will be, like me, ambivalent about poetry, and I’m hoping that they, like me, will be surprised by the power of the writing when put under a microscope. If you have any poems you’d recommend, please email or add them here.