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Issue 50 / December 2012

What's your favourite poem?

Let's celebrate National Poetry Day by confessing to our fondest poetical loves. But here's the tricky part – just one poem each

The discussions on Poem of the week often veer towards the what-is-a-poem question. Of course the answer changes, to some extent, as times change. There are small aesthetic shifts that ultimately add up, and language itself changes over the ages. And yet, I am convinced that some criteria are timeless. A poem can do whatever words can do, but is driven more intensely than other verbal forms by a desire for interlocking patterns. It's a beautifully coherent brokenness, if you like, since line-breaks are at the heart of the structure. Whether a 16th-century sonnet, or an irregularly shaped 21st-century "list poem", the real thing is always uniquely itself and nothing other. Today, poetry in English is a poetry of truly magnificent diversity, but the different idioms often conceal shared aims.

From: Books news, reviews and author interviews |

Thursday, 8 October, 2009

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