The Forward Book of Poetry 2014
Fd. Jeanette Winterson
London, Forward, 2013, 144p
There are so many themes covered in an anthology of this size and quality that every time you open it you find something new - a new form, style or subject.
The Forward Poetry competition celebrates new poetry published each year, producing this incredible collection. Within this book, you have finalists from a number of categories and I enjoyed the variety that afforded.
In terms of some specifics, there were some individual poems that made this anthology something special for me. I am only human, and therefore cannot claim to love every poem I read.
One, called 'The International Poem of the Year' by Emily Berry, described a strange dystopia in which poems are political weapons. Nations banned them, fought over them, and launched them into space. Elsewhere, poems played a "role in pioneering eye operations, contribut[ing] to democracies and charitable works". This poem was excatly what Winterson discusses in her foreward when she describes poems as bombs, giving "us back the words we need so that we can say how we feel".
I was also impressed by the presence of two poems about Sheffield in this collection: 'In Sheffield' by Adam White and Stainless Stephen by Helen Mort. In praise of Sheffield, these poems explored the steel industry through two very different routes, with Mort personifying the industry and White engaging with the history of the city. It felt like home to read these.
Another I wanted to comment upon was Michael Symmons Robert and the two poems from him that are a brilliant addition to this collection. He has an incredible way with words, looking at universal themes of family and love with language that reaches right into your heart and plucks at your deepest dreams and fears.
Poetry is at the forefront of my life at the moment, as we celebrate the wonderful students who have won international competitions. I have high hopes for the young writers at Oxford Spires Academy, who's names will one day fill the pages of anthologies such as this.