In our fourth and final Foyle Young Poets recommend feature, Cia Mangat and Annie Davison share what they’re reading and how they are coping. Why not take up Cia’s challenge to start your own book club and carry on the conversation? Catch up with yesterday’s feature here.
Cia Mangat: Space Struck Wolves
“This week I reread Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Paige Lewis’ Space Struck – both of these poets are legends when it comes to peppering in little lines you’ll want to underline and copy out over and over again. I know it’s cheesy but there are so many bits I’ve underlined because they feel like tiny truths or aphorisms in quarantine time, for example, from Akbar:
it’s a myth
that love lives in the heart
it lives in the throat we push it out
when we speak
when we gasp we take a little for ourselves
And from Lewis:
is an arrow
and it asks only one question;
How dare you?
You can also listen to Kaveh Akbar reading with Richard Scott in this London Review Bookshop podcast on your government mandated daily exercise.
For a single poem, I’d recommend reading ‘Imminent Catastrophe’ by Phoebe Stuckes (in the 2017 Barbican Young Poets anthology) – mainly because there’s a line in it about someone’s face freezing over Skype which feels very relevant right now, considering the number of FaceTime/Zoom calls I’ve made over the past two weeks. I don’t know if anyone else can relate to this but being stuck at home has meant I’ve found myself increasingly reliant on signals from the universe in the form of Co-Star: Phoebe’s line about star signs blows my mind every time I read it. You can hear Phoebe read some poems here.
I’ve seen people doing the NaPoWriMo/Escapril challenges across Twitter and Instagram – I’ve been dipping in and out because writing a poem a day seems too scary, to be honest, so I’ve written about three poems so far. This month I’ve been using my newfound free time to reread books I enjoyed the first time around (see above) and I’ve recently got into underlining or annotating (I think I’m going to regret this when I come back to reread in the future, though). A small recommendation: why not start a book club (even if it’s as small as two people) over text, reading 2-3 chapters of a book that would’ve felt too long/impenetrable/old-fashioned otherwise?”
Cia Mangat is a seventeen year old Foyle Young Poet from London.
Annie Davison: “Two days alone and I’m talking / to the chilli plant”
“I recommend Flèche by Mary Jean Chan a thousand times. There is so so much to think about and re-read, so it’s a perfect way to fill up a part of all this time. I don’t want to gush too much, but if you are looking for poetry books to read and haven’t read this one yet, I promise it’s a good idea.
For a single poem, I have read ‘Kintsugi 金継ぎ’ by Rebecca Perry quite a few times over, mostly because it feels like a very comforting poem, and also because it’s all about pausing and thinking about the small things, which I think is important and inevitable during these weeks in isolation.
Two days alone and I’m talking
to the chilli plant – watching the red
seep through the last green one
like a limb coming to life.
I never noticed how long the light bulbs
take to be bright. I also realise I don’t know
the way anywhere. The streets
always just appeared before.
I have been enjoying reading during this time and feel like I am able to catch up on books (poetry and non-poetry) that I’ve been meaning to read. I initially struggled a bit with writing anything un-quarantine related, similarly to others I have talked to, but have been getting more comfortable with everything, and so am able to be inspired by things I’m reading and other aspects of life. The way I’m structuring my days leaves me a lot of space for relaxing, and I think it’s important to remember that it’s okay not to be super productive and sensible at the moment – there’s so many worrying things happening that it’s fine to do the bare minimum. For me, reading and writing are probably my main ways of coping with all the extra time, as well as going on walks, watching films and listening to new music.”
Annie Davison is a 2019 Foyle Young Poet. She is studying Spanish, Literature and Classical Civilisations at A Level, and enjoys making music as well as writing. Her current favourite poets include Safia Elhillo, Mary Jean Chan and Jay Bernard.
What have you been reading? Do you have any recommendations? Share them with us in the comments! And find out more about the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award for 11-17 year olds and start your entry here.