Entertainment

Sunday 22 September 2019

Booksellers vote for top poetry books from last 25 years

Poetry from the reigning UK and Scottish Laureates is included on the list.

The books on the list (Booksellers Association)
The books on the list (Booksellers Association)

By Julia Hunt, PA Entertainment Correspondent

A poetry collection by the late Maya Angelou and a book-length poem dramatising a river are among the works on a list of the 25 favourite poetry books from the last 25 years.

The list was voted for by booksellers in the UK and Ireland to mark National Poetry Day’s 25th anniversary in 2019.

The five poetry books with the most booksellers’ votes were Alice Oswald’s Dart, which dramatises a West Country river through the words of those who live and work by it, The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, Maya Angelou’s The Complete Poetry, and two anthologies – Staying Alive edited by Neil Astley and The Rattle Bag, edited by Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes.

The list, announced at the annual Booksellers Association conference in Birmingham, includes anthologies and single-author collections, poetry for children, for young people and for adults.

Recent work by young British poets is included, such as Andrew McMillan’s Physical, Jonathan Edwards’ My Family And Other Superheroes, Liz Berry’s Black Country and Hollie McNish’s Plum.

Poetry from the reigning UK and Scottish Laureates, Simon Armitage and Jackie Kay, and from international stars such as Claudia Rankine, Sharon Olds, Anne Carson alongside Rupi Kaur and Hera Lindsay Bird also features.

Booksellers Association’s head of campaigns Emma Bradshaw said: “I am endlessly impressed by the knowledge and passion of our members, so it comes as no surprise to see that the list of poetry titles they have created is so wonderfully diverse.” 

Susannah Herbert, executive director Forward Arts Foundation, added: “The nation’s bookshops are clearly staffed by poetry enthusiasts who see all the ways in which poetry is increasingly connecting with book-lovers.

“In choosing a list that features Alice Oswald, the new Oxford Professor for Poetry, alongside Pam Ayres, a list that honours beautiful design alongside erudition, humour alongside calls to revolution, the participating booksellers have made their shops central to National Poetry Day’s anniversary celebrations.”

The Poetry Booksellers Love list was organised by the Booksellers Association and Forward Arts Foundation to celebrate National Poetry Day’s 25th anniversary in 2019. National Poetry Day is on October 3.

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