5 Poetry Books To Enjoy With Family and Friends This Season

I think it’s a good idea to keep a mixed poetry book on the table at home, that way you’ll always have something inspirational to hand if you want to enjoy a poem of two with your family or friends over breakfast or dinner.

A poem works well as both an aperitif and an after-dinner mint, and don’t forget to read it aloud for extra fun! There are so many beautiful poems out there, but where should you start? In this post I’ll be sharing 5 poetry books to enjoy with family and friends this season.If you’re relatively new to the world of poetry, or perhaps looking to freshen up your collection I recommend picking an anthology of mixed poets, that way you’ll get to sample a bit of everything.

Somewhere along the way, you’ll discover a few favourite poets and you can follow up with them by buying their personal book of poems.

Here are five of the loveliest poetry anthologies you need in your life this season (and beyond!)  There are so many others I could have chosen, but I’ll save those for the new years book reviews.

  • ‘Best Loved Poems’  An anthology edited by Neil Philip illustrated by Isabelle Brent. 
  • ‘How Freakin’ Zeitgeist Are You’ poems by Murray Lachlan Young
  • ‘One River Many Creeks’ an anthology edited by Valerie Bloom
  • ‘New and Selected Poems’ by Mary Oliver:
  • ‘Funny Ha-Ha Funny Peculiar’ an anthology of strange and comic poems edited by Neil Astley of Blood Axe Books.

Poetry Anthology Review and Synopsis

5 Poetry Books To Enjoy With Family and Friends This season

5 Poetry Books To Enjoy With Family and Friends This season

Best Loved Poems (2000) edited by Neil Philip illustrated by Isabelle Brent.

This is a delightful classic anthology. Not too big and not too small, but jam-packed with little glimmers of beauty from the likes of Auden, Keats, D. H. Lawrence, Milne, Yeats, Blake, Herrick and many more. Poems range in size, from just a few lines —‘Life is jest and all things show it, I thought so once; but now I know it’ (John Gay) through to longer, livelier poems perfect for reading aloud, for example, Macavity The Mystery Cat.

It also features some lesser anthologised poems such as Victoria Market by Francis Brabazon (totally ace!) The sections in this small, beautifully illustrated book are childhood and youth, love and marriage, life, loss and comfort, war and peace, read aloud, read quietly, animals and nature, magic and mystery.  Buy it for the family or as a self-gift. One of my favourite ever anthologies. Order a copy ASAP friends!

5 Poetry Books To Enjoy With Family and Friends This season

How Freakin’ Zeitgeist Are You by Murray Lachlan Young.

I first discovered Muray at The Good Life Experience in Wales. He was engaging, funny, and so entertaining. I don’t generally enjoy performance poetry that much, but seeing Murray was such an absolute pleasure and I bought a signed copy of his book afterwards. I bet he’s inspiring lots of people to realise how great poetry is and for that, he deserves a medal. Or at least lots of book sales!

How Freakin Zeitgeist Are You is modern, fun, easy to read and enjoy,  intelligent and lyrical with lots of themed pop culture poems told in a slight Owl And The Pussy Cat tone.  Poems include: ‘Get Your Ukulele Out’, ‘The Day Brad Pitt Ate A Cornish Pasty’ and one of my favourites, ‘Thong’

Mostly family-friendly, very good for reading aloud to friends over dinner and drinks.

5 Poetry Books To Enjoy With Family and Friends This season

New and Selected Poems by Mary Oliver.

Mary is someone who has truly met nature and taken that relationship into her heart. It’s full of dazzlingly beautiful poems, perfect for anyone in love with the natural world and the wonder of existence. Objets d’amour include: The Hermit Crab, Lillies, Moccasin Flowers, Rain, The Swan, The Owl, Deer, Geese, Poppies, Whelks and The sun, among hundreds of others.

‘Funny Ha-Ha Funny Peculiar’ Edited by Neil Astley.

The English do indeed have an odd tradition of weird poems and comic verse. I love all of Neil Astley’s anthologies and this little book presents a host of peculiar, provocative, and entertaining modern poems guaranteed to raise a smile — or an eyebrow! Some are suitable for children, and many others definitely are not! Poets featured include Tony Hoagland, Fleur Adcock, Roger McGough, Sophie Hannah and Wendy Cope. 

‘O Cod,

I feel a right prawn.

Try to kipper outside the cinema.

Obviously the wrong plaice.

Welcoming bream turns into a fowl Mackerel,

Next minnow she’s slapping my face.’

(Excerpt from Kipper on Lips by Peter Finch, p22)
5 Poetry Books To Enjoy With Family and Friends This season

One River Many Creeks by Valerie Bloom.

A lovely anthology of poems from all around the world. I first found this book while working with NHS healthcare patients about 10 years ago or so. I’d been looking for a book of poems that offered a look at life from different perspectives and traditions. This book definitely offers that. Speaking of it, The Independent says ‘an attractive and approachable anthology…unusual little windows into other cultures past and present…. full of illuminating observations’  an effervescent selection from around the world that adults and children will love to dip into.  A real gem!

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