Arts

Recommended
Our authors' favourite poems
Daisy Leverington
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T.S.Eliot Eliot gives us a glimpse of one man's gentle sweep towards middle age in this beautiful poem about the passage of time. Our protagonist worries about his appearance, social standing and the opposite sex. It's a beautiful and recognisable tale of finally growing up.
Sadie Hasler
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot When I fell in love with this poem as a teen I didn't understand it. It just nuzzled itself into me and stayed there like a stubborn cat. I love its ambling confessional quality, the ordinariness of Prufrock at the centre of its dreamlike strangeness. I still don't understand it.
Grainne Maguire
Begin by Thomas Kennelly I love this poem; it's an exhilarating drumbeat celebrating the sheer odd wonder of being alive. It's an aching, throbbing celebration of life in all its baffling unknowingness, confusion, regret and pain. It hums with compassion, love and sad wisdom. Read this and feel ready to take on the world again.
Siân Bevan
Not Waving But Drowning by Stevie Smith I fell in love with this poem when I was about 15. I was overwhelmed with that panicky, breathless angst that makes most teenagers a pain in the arse and this was the first thing I read which made sense of how I felt.
Ruth Bratt
You Are Tired by E. E. Cummings E. E. Cummings writes such romantic poetry without ever resorting to cliché, I find it hard to pick just one of his poems. This one picks me up but allows me to be melancholy if that is how I want to be.
Jen Lavery
To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence by James Elroy Flecker I love this poem because it does feel like Elroy's hand is reaching out to you, and others, across years and generations. It conveys an idea of basic humanity, a feeling of joy in the arts that we all share, regardless of our position in time.
Nat Luurtsema
Digging by Seamus Heaney It makes me feel better about building a career on something as flimsy as jokes while my parents have proper useful-to-society jobs. Though I’m doing even less manual labour than Heaney as I don’t even write with a pen.
Andrea Hubert
The Thought Fox by Ted Hughes There are few more accurate and beautiful descriptions of both the desolation of empty-headed writers block, nor the moment it melts away and leaves you wide eyed with insecure relief.
Hannah Dunleavy
The Masque of Anarchy by Percy Bysshe Shelley It's epic, in every sense of the word. It wasn't published for 12 years because it was considered dangerous. That's the best thing art can be.
Hannah Dolan
All I Ever Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten by Robert Fulgham This adorable poem was found by my husband for our wedding. I loved it instantly and will always love it. We don’t draw, paint, sing or dance as much as we should, but we do play together most evenings and we’re very good at sharing biscuits.
Susan Calman
Mrs Thatcher by Adrian Mole (Sue Townsend) I loved the Adrian Mole books when I was growing up. His poetry was heartfelt, sometimes immature, but always brilliant. I knew this poem off by heart when I was 13, and I still do now. Sue Townsend was the first author I read that talked about the impact of the Thatcher years.
Eleanor Tiernan
For the Interim Time by John O Donohue This was given to me on a scrap of paper by a friend when I was feeling a bit skewy . It's a good one to read when I don't know what the hell I am doing, which is very often. The poet died this year. A man well-loved by many.
Laura Sparling
There Are Holes In The Sky by Spike Milligan I love it because even though it's short and simple, it conjures up wonderful imagery in my head. It also reminds me of being a kid, reading my dad's Spike Milligan books by torchlight under my duvet.
Alice Fleetwood
An Arundel Tomb by Philip Larkin Its killer last line "What will survive of us is love" represents the real-life battle between two of Larkin's women: upright Maeve, who after years, yielded her virginity; and Monica, who equalled Larkin in intellect and the pursuit of sex. In dying first, Maeve won, claiming it as her epitaph.
Susan Hanks
Casabianca by Felicia Dorothea Hemans My Nan used to recite lots of nonsense poetry to me when I was little. When asked at school for my favourite I began: "The boy stood on the burning deck..." Having since learned of the many rude parodies that followed the original, I understand why my teacher stopped me... and why my nan had such as twinkle in her eye whenever she performed it!
Grace Woodward
This Be The Verse by Philip Larkin Ok this might be the biggest cliché of a choice of poem but it's become a big thing in my life. I sent it in my angry 20s with a wry smile to my Dad who didn't reply with an apology, as I'd perhaps wanted. He got his own back by slipping it to my brother to read during my wedding. I chose to call my son Larkin. When I look at my Larkin I want to always be reminded don't fuck this up.
Tanya Barrow
Matilda by Hilaire Beloc A poem I had to learn by heart at school for a poetry competition and can still recite today even though I can’t remember what I had for lunch two days ago. It made me certain that lying to adults would mean my house would burn down. A bit dramatic but a great cautionary tale!
Urzila Carlson
The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer The invitation is an amazing poem, it's long but the first time I ever heard it I had the same feeling that I had when I watched a Dirty Dancing for the first time, I felt like I could do it too! I knew that no matter how tough things get, I will always think of this poem.
Caroline Mabey
I, Being born a Woman and Distressed (Sonnet XLI) by Edna St Vincent Millay, circa 1931 When I read this as a teenager, my eyes nearly popped out of my head. How outrageous for a female voice to take on the sonnet. Instead of declarations of eternal love and lyrical descriptions of cheeks and lips, it is a gorgeously efficient, pragmatic, startling dismissal of a lover. SO unladylike. Wow.
Kiri Pritchard-McLean
The Four Friends by A.A. Milne I loved this. As a kid I used to make a nest in the corner of the bedroom and sit and read "When We Were Very Young" over and over again. I loved this poem especially and found it hilarious that the snail was just getting on with his business on a brick, it still makes me laugh and I'm not even sure that's the point of it.
Maureen Younger
Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen Haunting, poignant and evocative, Owen deftly conveys the true horror of war as faced by the ordinary soldier, stripping away the veneer of heroism and glory which often shrouds it. His contempt for the warmongers neatly summed up in the irony of the last two lines.
Cal Wilson
Common Knowledge by Kevin Ireland A joyous description of falling in love. In my early twenties, I'd read it to potential boyfriends, as my horribly pretentious litmus test. If they got it...they got It. A terrible misuse of a poem.

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