If you’re not a ‘bedtime stories’ type of person, or your kids/partner/pets prefer screentime over pageturners, we’ve discovered quite the game changer, in the form of a poetry tome. Sounds unlikely I know, but then if we’re all on board with colouring books, I think we can give poetry a fair hearing, and by the time that you’re enveloped in the vibrant tales that bounce, float and apparate (Harry Potter does indeed feature) off of the pages of a very clever new poetry anthology, it’ll be too late to argue that poetry isn’t your thing.
A Poem For Every Night Of The Year, edited by former actress and now writer (and poetry champion) Allie Esiri, is a treasure trove of 366 poems, one for every day (or rather, evening) of the year, leap years included. Published by Macmillan Children’s Books, it may have been compiled with children in mind, but you’ll find that the poetry within oversteps generational divides as much as it transcends cultures and religions.
Chances are you’ll turn straight to your ‘birthday’ poem, but a deeper delve encompasses everything from lullabies to poetry about war, women’s rights and significant global events in history, whether well known or more under the radar. In addition to taking in key dates and festivals, there are uplifting poems on the topics of ageing, being too busy and burning the candle at both ends, with which the majority of us can no doubt identify, while Allie’s warm and revealing introductions (“it’s difficult to tell someone you love them”) will strike a chord with children and adults alike. In short, whatever your age, nationality or faith, you’ll find something in here that resonates, and Allie’s explanations will not only further children’s learning and curiosity, but also jog your own memory in terms of poetic terminology and the passage of time. A thorough breakdown of Auld Lang Syne is something that we could likely all benefit from (literally no idea what I’m singing, every single year) while poems about industrialisation will encourage you see Slough in a whole new light (really). From an Ode to the Xbox to poems about homework and lying around in bed, family life is very accurately documented, while verses on the bliss of seeking out a bit of peace and quiet will encourage you to do just that at the end of the day.
To further bring the poems to life, Allie will be holding a recital at the Olivier Theatre on Friday 25th November, along with special guests including Helena Bonham Carter and Helen McCrory. Tickets cost £6, and the evening will provide a unique opportunity to witness some of the UK’s national acting treasures perform work from the likes of W.B Yeats, A.A Milne, Maya Angelou and J.K Rowling, to name but a few poetic and literary legends you’ll find gracing the pages of A Poem For Every Night Of The Year. Bring along some little ones, teens or simply a sense of fun and wonder and you’ll get the poetry bug, I guarantee.
A Poem For Every Night Of The Year, £14.99, buy online here
Buy tickets for the poetry recital with the National Theatre here