These New Poetry Books Will Improve Your Commute
The poems to keep you sane during the heatwave.
Whoever you are, or whatever line of work you find yourself in, one thing is certain: the subterranean transit system in summertime is akin to one of Dante’s circles of hell. It is a grim inevitability as immutable as the leaves turning brown. To travel in July or August through London, New York and Paris below ground is to have all hope squeezed from you.
This, we have come to expect. But 2018 is no normal year, given New York is in the grip of a heatwave and London is experiencing the hottest summer since 1976. Carriages are taking on the form of some sticky, malodorous locker room. It is enough to try the patience of a clam.
So, short of travelling to work in swimwear, what to do? The trick is distraction, to allow the mind to travel beyond the steel and iron carapace of the Tube. Luckily, as well as being the stickiest summer for 42 years, it is also the hottest season for new poetry releases. And poetry, the sublime, the beautiful, is exactly what you need when you are jammed up against someone’s armpit at Bank station at 8.45am. What’s more, the books are small and light, so you can read them standing up.
One of the best poetry releases this summer is Mr Andrew McMillan’s latest book, Playtime. Mr McMillan was the first poet to win The Guardian’s coveted First Book Award back in 2015 with Physical, his unbending study of masculinity. His new effort takes us back to childhood, adolescence, and explores sex. It is a tightly written, varied book, that’s as transportative as a pre-dinner martini. “Isn’t this what human kind was made for” he asks, “telling stories learning where the skin/is most in need of touch”.
It is by no means the only release, mind you. Here are three other books to get you through your journey.
Fondue (Offord Road Books)
by Ms AK Blakemore
“Never say / the best of summer’s gone”, Ms AK Blakemore implores of the reader in Fondue, a book shot-through with images that repeatedly demand our attention. These are poems that will teleport you into a parallel transgressive world over and over again. And they will stay with you long after your commute.
Working Class Voodoo (Offord Road Books)
by Mr Bobby Parker
That Mr Bobby Parker’s life has been one lived in technicolor might be an understatement. His poems will inexplicably lift you. They will open a doorway through alleyways, past people packed around pub slot machines, and show you a bright, dizzy love in the most incongruous of places. “No one said/this/was going/to be beautiful/but, for some reason, it is.”
Isn’t Forever (Bloodaxe Books)
by Ms Amy Key
Ms Key’s poetry is sublime. Read this to lose yourself in another person’s worldview entirely. Hypnotic with a cutting, witty edge, these poems invite you into a hall of mirrors reflecting everything about the self – from sex, to love, to death. Despite this, they are not alienating, but rather draw you closer and closer to understanding an inner transcendent human truth.