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The magic of new poetry books
It has been something of a magical few days in the world of books: this weekend we celebrated National Bookshop Day and all of you who support your local bookshops, it was National Poetry Day, shining a spotlight on the power of poems and poets, and amidst the new books published this week was a treasure by nature writer Robert Macfarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris: The Lost Spells.
Sometimes you come across a book that is hard to define and The Lost Spells is one of them. It is for both children and adults, it is poetry, nature-writing, sumptuously illustrated, a perfect present and a powerful environmental message rolled into one. For this week’s book edit it has led me to share a list of inspiring new poetry books out this season, all of which make great gifts which I hope you’ll enjoy.
To celebrate The Lost Spells we have also launched a social media competition to win a limited edition poster print by Jackie Morris – full details below!
The Lost Spells
Robert MacFarlane & Jackie Morris
SIGNED COPIES WHILE STOCKS LAST
In 2017 Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris published a book that would go on to be a phenomenon for readers young and old. The Lost Words was a beautiful, smart way of preserving and restoring the language of nature to a generation who have become disconnected from it. Through a series of ‘spell-poems’ by MacFarlane and stunning paintings by Morris, they brought alive words slipping from everyday vocabulary, like acorn, wren, otter and bramble. The Lost Spells is a smaller book but no less covetable as it uses spell-poems to conjure and celebrate creatures and plants, from the red fox to the silver birch. It stirs a sense of wonder at the world around us and offers a way for younger children to learn and connect to their environment. Signed copies while stock last.
The Lost Words: Spell Songs
Spell Songs is a special book with CD featuring musical accompaniment to, and based on, The Lost Words. It features works by a diverse group of musicians who, in 2018, spent a week together in the company of illustrator Jackie Morris where ‘art inspired music and music inspired art’. The songs include elements of British folk music, Senegalese folk tradition, experimental and classical music, with spoken word, singing, different languages and natural sounds like birdsong and river flow, all adding to the atmosphere. The aim of the songs, like the book, is to spread the idea of appreciating and protecting the natural world. In 2019, contributing musicians to Spell Songs toured the UK, including concerts at Hay Festival and the BBC Proms and had more dates planned this year before the pandemic. While we can’t see them live at the moment, we can listen along with this lovely book and CD.
The Jackie Morris Book of Classic Nursery Rhymes
I am a self-confessed Jackie Morris fan and though I love her work on The Lost Words and The Lost Spells, she does pursue many other projects, the most recent of which is this exquisite new edition of a collection of traditional nursery rhymes for children. It opens with a spirited defence of nursery rhymes, which she fears are being forgotten in this digital age and if her magical illustrations don’t tempt you further then I don’t what will! This book would make a generous birthday, christening or Christmas gift, containing 40 nursery rhymes from Hickory, Dickory, Dock to Daffy-Down Dilly and I Had a Little Nut Tree’. Great for sharing and reading aloud together with little ones.
Poems to Save the World With
Chosen and illustrated by Chris Riddell
Another new poetry book that provokes thought about the state of the environment is this fresh anthology from former Children’s Laureate and much-loved illustrator Riddell, OBE. As with his previous anthologies, Poems to Live Your Life By and Poems to Fall in Love With, it works for adults but is ideal for younger readers with its range and fun illustration. With characteristic positivity and sensitivity, Riddell has mixed classic works with contemporary, famous with lesser known, including poems by Neil Gaiman, Maggi Smith, Raymond Antrobus and Lewis Carroll. It is designed to lift the spirits and to provide comfort and inspiration in these strange times, whenever or wherever you dip into it.
A Poem for Every Autumn Day
Edited by Allie Esiri
There’s no denying we are starting to draw the curtains earlier and to bring out the woolly hats and scarves. This anthology of poems celebrates the changes of the seasons and promises to ‘keep you company for every day of Autumn’. If the cover alone doesn’t tempt you, then inside there is a broad range of work, like Riddell’s anthology, mixing old and new, familiar favourites and some unexpected discoveries. As with The Lost Spells, we’re encouraged to read aloud and share the poems, which range from work by Robert Louis Stevenson, John Betjeman, Amy Lowell, Paul Laurence Dunbar, William Shakespeare and Christina Rossetti who sit alongside Seamus Heaney, John Agard, Simon Armitage, Patience Agbabi and Imtiaz Dharker.
Forward Book of Poetry 2021
Every year the Forward Book of Poetry offers up a delicious selection of work by the very best of contemporary poets, bringing together those to watch in 2021 and including works shortlisted and highly commended for this year’s Forward Poetry Prizes. The announcement of the Forward Prizes comes on October 25th this year but the book is available now and if you aren’t sure where to start with modern poetry, this is the place. Shortlistees for the coveted 2020 prizes include the brilliant Caroline Bird plus Pascale Petit, Malika Booka, Ella Frears, David Morley and Will Harris. Dip into any page to get a feel for some of the brightest, most exciting contemporary poetry.
Prices and availability checked Thursday 1 October 2020
Win a limited edition The Lost Spells print
To celebrate the stunning new book, The Lost Spells by Robert MacFarlane and Jackie Morris, we have a beautiful A2 poster print available to win (plus wooden poster hanger).
Simply share a creative post on social media inspired by The Lost Words and/or The Lost Spells using #thelostspells and tagging @jarroldnorwich @robgmacfarlane @jackiemorrisart @PenguinUKBooks for your chance to win!
Winner will be chosen at the end of the month.