Poetry Rivals 2016

Taking poetry from the page to the stage!

Our Favourite Poems

Date Posted: 22-09-2014 09:43:32

One of the job requirements for working here is a love of poetry – so we asked our editors which poem is their favourite, and why.


Jenni Bannister:


My favourite poem is ‘Because She Would Ask Me Why I Loved Her’ by Christopher John Brennan.


The simplicity of this poem is what appeals to me. The alliteration and assonance, particularly the repetition of ‘ee’ throughout, give it a lyrical cadence that I find beautiful. The rhythm of the poem, with its basic aabb rhyming scheme, also allows the content to be the main focus.


It’s a love poem, but one that doesn’t need to extol the many virtues of its subject to make its point. I love the sentiment behind the poem that love can’t and shouldn’t be explained by rationale. There is no bullet point list of attributes to answer the titular question. The answer to his question is simple, like the poem. He loves her because he is alive, to exist is to love her, and she is the one who gives him life.


Donna Samworth:


My favourite poem, without doubt, has to be ‘The Raven’ by Edgar Allen Poe. Yes it’s dark, yes it speaks of a man overcome with grief, and yes it grows more sinister the more you read, but this all adds to its dramatic appeal.


I love the fact that from the very first sentence I am dragged into the world of the narrator - the tone just gradually turns more dark and melancholy as the narrator slips into a form of madness; resulting not only from his grief of losing Lenore, but also from the annoyance of the Raven’s one-worded response. The pattern of adding stressed and unstressed syllables one after the other throughout really adds dramatic effect.


The focus on the ‘o’ sound in Lenore and nevermore also provoke an almost song-like sound, making The Raven a perfect poem to read aloud.


Surely I cannot forget to mention Edgar’s use of the raven as the main symbol throughout. Used to merely utter the words ‘Nevermore’? No, the raven, considered a bird of ill-omen, is used for a reason.


What I most love about the Raven though, is it offers readers the chance to make their own judgements. To me, even though the Raven speaks of a man gone mad over the loss of his loved one, there is a positive message that I can read from the poem – that the memory of Lenore will be forgotten, nevermore!


Cheryl Whitfield:


A poem that’s stayed with me for years is Liz Lochhead’s ‘Rapunzstiltskin’. It’s a contemporary twist on the typical fairytale narrative, in which the protagonist struggles to play the role of damsel in distress effectively. I love the satirical yet playful message; Lochhead introduced me to a genre of punchy, tongue-in-cheek poetry that I hadn’t come across before.


I particularly like the way the drama escalates rapidly, culminating in the sudden and theatrical ending. Both characters fail to flourish in their traditional roles and become frustrated trying to satisfy the clichés ascribed to them. 


I’ve always found it to be a fun, witty poem with a relevant and critical message. It was particularly refreshing to discover as a teenager – the sardonic tone really resonated with me!


Shobhna Patel:


Who doesn’t relish a serene day in or by the peaceful sea ... I know I do! And that’s just why I love ‘Sea Fever’ by John Masefield. Evoking images of tranquillity and a solitary existence, for me this is the perfect read after a hectic day. Known as one of John Masefield’s most popular poems, I came across it while studying at university, so the words are pretty much embedded in my mind after working on this piece day and night for 6 months!


‘Sea Fever’ is told from a sailor’s point of view, it captures the movement of a ship through the ocean – the strong winds and rushing waters of the high seas. Through its 3 simple verses and AABB rhyme scheme, the natural rhythm gives the poem a lovely song-like quality.


Up until writing this entry, I hadn’t realised that through meter, strong imagery and figurative language how much I’m able to relate to the narrator of the poem – in the past I too have travelled extensively by sea, I recently got married by the waves and I’ll even be living by the sea pretty soon! Whereas the ambiguous connotations in Sea Fever once made me reflect on escaping to a calm and gentle existence, upon reading this poem now it allows me look forward to the long, tumultuous voyage of life ...


Lisa Adlam:


My favourite poem has to be T S Eliot’s ‘The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock’. I was introduced to it at university and I think getting a good grade for the essay I wrote about it definitely added to its appeal for me! I quickly discovered that I was in a minority amongst my classmates in liking this meandering, difficult to interpret piece, yet the work’s abstract nature is what first attracted me to it. There are so many different meanings to take from it each time it is reread.


I particularly like the way Eliot uses striking and haunting imagery, bringing to life the narrator’s world with the beautifully phrased ‘sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells' and ‘The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes’. There is real attention to the tiny details of everyday life which neatly offset Prufrock’s existential questioning.


Even though the poem is nearly a hundred years old now, I think the struggle with self-doubt and isolation is still one we can all at times relate to, especially when writing poetry ourselves, and this struggle is conveyed with absolute perfection by Eliot.


Here are a few others from around the building:


Bobby Tobolik (inputter) – ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling

Laura Meads (Nursery Resources) – ‘I Carry Your Heart’ by ee cummings

Amanda Robinson (Nursery Resources) – ‘Half Caste’ by John Agard

Camilla Davis (Book Printing UK designer) – ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

Craig Scantlebury (inputter) – ‘Messy Room’ by Shel Silverstein

Ed Thompson (customer services) – ‘This Be The Verse’ – Philip Larkin

Sheldon Colaso (Book Printing UK designer) – ‘Under Milk Wood’ by Dylan Thomas (not sure we’d class that as a poem, but okay!)


Leave us a comment and let us know if you agree with any of us, or let us know which poem is your favourite!

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