Book Review – The Blue Sky and I: An Anthology of Poems by Samiksha Tulika Ransom

Book Review – The Blue Sky and I: An Anthology of Poems by Samiksha Tulika Ransom

wp-15929476786517959186511311988852.jpg5_star_rating_system_4_stars1 One of the best thing about being a book blogger is that you often get the chance to read things you would normally have missed. Has Samiksha Tulika Ransom not messaged me on Instagram, then I might not have known this anthology existed. When I checked out the anthology, it sounded like exactly the kind of thing that I should be reading. I know I say it every time I review poetry but I don’t read enough poetry. Even though I studied the Romantic poets at university, I am still a little intimidated by poetry. I have much respect for anyone who writes it. I wouldn’t have confidence in myself. And if I did, I’d definitely never try and deal with such important themes.

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Friday Favourites: National Poetry Day

Friday Favourites: National Poetry Day

screenshot_20191003_212118_com8728582950616342181.jpegYesterday was National Poetry Day. I always consider myself a big poetry fan but, if I’m honest, I don’t read a lot of it these days. I have too many novels that need reading. Although I do try. After Rupi Kaur and Amanda Lovelace were all over Bookstagram a few years ago, I decided it was worth giving them a try. After all, everyone I saw was talking about how life-changing they were. I read them. I didn’t get it. Anyone who read my ramble about poetry last year will remember, I got quite angry about them. I don’t get it. It’s not poetry. It’s formating. But, that’s not the point. I want to reconnect with poetry by celebrating some of my favourite poems. I’ll be honest, as a lover of all things Romantic, most of these will probably be pretty obvious but there’s got to a reason we’re still talking about them after all these years, right?

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Contemporary Poetry: The Rupi Kaur Conundrum

Contemporary Poetry: The Rupi Kaur Conundrum

Poetry. It’s something I love but don’t often read these days. I blather on and on about my university days when I read Romantic poetry all the frigging time but I’m 30 now. As much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s been a while since I finished my degree and I’ve kind of lost my way with poetry. So, I’m always trying to get back into it. Obviously, I have my favourite Romantic poets and have a certain fondness for the greats. I’m talking Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Yeats, TS Eliot etc. TS Eliot’s Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock is one of my favourite ever works of poetry. It shares the top spot with The Rime of the Ancient Mariner but I’ve discussed this before. My issue is contemporary poetry. I guess the closest I get to really loving contemporary poetry is the work of First World War poets. So, you know, not at all contemporary. It’s not that I hate it; I just don’t have the same love for it. Recently I’ve been trying to push myself to read more. It was this quest that got me to pick up Rupi Kaur’s collection Milk and Honey and Amanda Lovelace’s the princess saves herself in this one. Both collections were ones I’d seen praised all over social media and the internet as a whole. I expected to be blown away. I wasn’t.

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Poetry Review – Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

Poetry Review – Depression and Other Magic Tricks by Sabrina Benaim

5_star_rating_system_3_starsdscn7643I have always considered myself to be something of a poetry fan. After all, I spent as much time as possible at university studying the poetry of the Romantic period. I’m a massive fan of the work of Byron and Shelley. T.S Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” shares the title of my favourite poem along with ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’. If anyone were to ask me, I’d confidently say that I was a poetry buff. However, the more I think about it the more I realise that this isn’t exactly true. Or, at least, not anymore. As anyone who reads my weekly rundowns will know, I’m not exactly great at reading novels let alone anything else. Every so often I will become a bit too self-aware and realise my inadequacies as a reader. Last year I decided I needed to read more non-fiction so bought some interesting books. I still haven’t read them. Every time the Man Booker International lists comes out I feel a pang of guilt for not reading enough foreign literature so I buy a few of the books or add them to my Amazon cart and promptly ignore them forever. I have so many books to read that it just becomes  struggle to fit it all in. But poetry is something I figure I can embrace again and still manage to keep going with my normal reading. After all, a few poems here and there aren’t going to distract me too much. And there’s a whole world of contemporary poetry just waiting for me to explore. So that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

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30 Books For My 30th – Number 29

30 Books For My 30th – Number 29

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img_4628Dear John Donne,

What happened to you, man? You used to be the man. I mean you once tried to convince a woman to sleep with you using a fucking flea. You were one of the original players, dude. Legendary. The fact that, whilst we studied you at the age of 16, my elderly English teacher had to explain the “sucking on country pleasures” pun to one of my clueless and naive classmates just makes me love you more. There’s nothing funnier than a woman nearing, if not having surpassed, retirement age trying so hard not to say the word “cunt” to her A Level class but being unable to explain it in any other way. It’s one of my favourite school memories. I kind of adored her anyway but that really settled it.

So, yeah. I had a lot of fun reading your poetry at 16. It was hilarious. Also, it’s not as if they’re bad poems. I actually really like them. I’d started to get more into poetry by that point anyway (it was after my first day with the Ancient Mariner) but you were accessible and different. Pretty clever stuff. But, it was your way with the ladies that really captivated my friends and I. We thought you were great. I mean talk about using your powers for evil, John. I know poetry has always been used in the pursuit of romance but you skipped the love hearts and got straight into the bedroom. You were the ultimate bro. You were a legend.

Well, until my further education introduced me to the yawn fest that is your later work. And I get it. You always struggled with your religion but don’t worry about it. Don’t turn your back on the man you once were. I’m sure God would have appreciated your resourcefulness. Using your talents. Your God-given talents. Of course, I have nothing against these poems from a literary point of view. They’re good. They’re just not fun. And I always associated you with fun. It’s like watching comic actors/comedians doing serious acting roles. It’s not necessarily bad but it’s always a little bit disappointing.

You’re like Eddie Izzard. I love Eddie Izzard and think he’s one of the funniest people ever. His comedy is bizarre but so hilarious. Nowadays, you only ever see Eddie popping up talking about politics. In theory I have no problem with this and think he talks a lot of sense. However, I still kind of wish he was still talking about cake or death. Or like Michael Sheen. I have huge love for Michael Sheen and think he’s one of the greatest actors ever. So, it’s always a bit of upsetting to see him on TV talking about how Port Talbot and not pretending to be Tony Blair. Not bad but upsetting.

You see what I’m saying? No? Here’s one more stupid, pop culture analogy for you. You’re like Kings of Leon. I think Youth and Young Manhood, they’re very first album, is one of the greatest all-round albums I’ve ever heard and I, personally, don’t think any of their subsequent stuff has ever lived up. I’ve enjoyed a few songs here and there but have never been able to listen to full albums in one sitting. So I, basically, just listen to their early stuff. Just as I, basically, just enjoy your early poems. You see? Simple.

I’m glad I’ve finally taken the time to explain it to you. I feel like this letter will only bring us closer together.
More than kisses, letters mingle souls,
Laura

30 Books For My 30th – Book 27

30 Books For My 30th – Book 27

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dscn7366Dear Byron,

I don’t even know if I really do love your poetry. I love you as a person and your reputation so much that I can no longer distinguish between the two. You’re like the Sean Bean of Romantic poetry. I have such a great love for Sean Bean that I have no judgement over his films anymore. I can’t separate the awesome Northern badass for the awful characters he’s playing these days. Similarly, whenever I read your poems I just think of the rock star you once were and can’t tell if I actually like them. Chances are your poems are much more impressive than Sean Bean’s recent filmography but, hopefully, you get my point.

You see, I’m already getting flustered talking to you. I’m like all of those women who believed you were writing love poetry to them. You were the first rock star poet, man. You were like Tom Jones. Did women throw their underwear at you too? Did you appear someone to read your poetry and loads of horny women would just throw their undergarments at you? They did faint in your presence after all. You turned all of your female fans into the heroine of a gothic novel. How could I not love you? I’d probably have been one of them.

But I do, also, appreciate your poetry. Although, you are responsible for one of the most embarrassing moments in my university career. During my third year I took a half-course on you and Shelley. I was excited. I already loved you and I took the chance to do anything linked to Romanticsm. In one of our seminars we were tasked to analyse small sections of the poem Don Juan. My friend and I were given Dudù’s dream sequence, which pre-seminar I had only skimmed over. It took us both a ridiculously long time to understand what was going on. Our tutor thought we were both idiots and I felt so naive. Still, we got there in the end.

I’m not stupid enough to believe that you are the best poet to come out of the Romantic period but I believe that you, more than the others, really sum up what it meant to be a poet of that era. You rejected so many social norms and did what you wanted. You embraced your celebrity, you wanted a fun and exciting life, and you were an artist in your own way. More than anything, you’re fun. I mean, what would vampire fiction have been without you? John Polidori based the first ever true fictional vampire on you. You’re the reason we have Dracula, dude. You’re quite a guy. I’ve never felt the same way reading the poets of Keats, Shelley or Wordsworth as I do reading yours. You may not be the greatest but you’re the most entertaining. And the one that caused the biggest stir. Nowadays, women may be more likely to swoon over pretty-boy Keats. If we’re talking about the real Romantic pinup then, in my heart I know, it’s you.

There is no instinct like that of the heart,
Laura

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

This week I bought one of these 100 Movies Bucket List scratch off posters with the intention of watching every film on it in the coming few months. There are plenty of films that I’ve already seen and a fair few that I haven’t. As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not a massive fan of horror films so there’s more than a few classic horrors that I’ll have to force myself to watch. I’m thinking of making it a blog thing so I can keep updating my progress as we go along but we’ll see. As of this moment, I have only scratched off one panel and that’s only because I promised myself I was never going to watch Dirty Dancing again. I know people adore it but that film did nothing for me. I just found it irritating and silly. Although, I do admit, that the final dance sequence is something I like to watch on YouTube every now and then but I’ve always been a sucker for a good dance sequence in a film. It’ll probably be slow going but 100 films doesn’t seem like such a terrible undertaking. We’ll see how much it affects my reading.

Weekly Bookish Post

Okay, hands up, I didn’t write anything this week because I didn’t have a topic in mind. I want to start writing better posts so I didn’t want to start a habit of posting because I have to. I’ll spend some time thinking of my next one and, fingers crossed, will come up with something useful and interesting.

Just Finished

  • And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

So, strictly speaking, I haven’t finished this yet but I intend to complete it tonight. It’s been wonderful going back over this tale. It really is one of the greatest pieces of crime fiction that’s ever been written. Agatha Christie really still is the Queen of Crime and this book is a masterpiece. Everything slots into place and it keeps people guessing til the end… unless you’ve already read it obviously. Then it’s just fun picking up on all the things that become so obvious when you know.


Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
Still put this on hold. Still trying to stop myself buying the Waterstones special edition hardback. Probably going to buy it.

Recently Purchased 
  • No Art: Poems by Ben Lerner

I had a random bookshop trip whilst waiting for a train the other day and I decided I was in the mood to buy some poetry. I’m a student of Romantic literature so I, understandly, love reading a bit of poetry but I tend to read less of it these days. Especially contemporary poetry. Most of the time I find it a bit too hipster-y for my liking. Like Milk and Honey. I so wanted to like the collection, and I mostly do, but a lot of it just felt silly… or pointless. I don’t know. But I decided to give Ben Lerner’s poetry a try based on the cover alone. I’ve heard a lot about Lerner but never read anything by him. It’ll be interesting to see how this goes.

  • Undying: A Love Story by Michel Faber


 Another collection of poetry added to my library. This time I thought it would be good to see what I thought of Michel Faber’s poetry. It also helps that the quote on the cover is from Ian McEwan, someone who I once considered my favourite contemporary writer. I admit that, even thought I like to act the big cynic, I’m a bit of an old romantic at heart so I do love poetry about love. Especially when it shows the realistic nature of human emotions. We’ll have to see if Faber can deliver.

  • The Novel Cure: An A-Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin


My final new purchase is a book that I’ve wanted for ages but one I’ve bought in a different edition than I’ve seen. So, no matter how excited I am that I now own it, I can’t help but feel a little disappointed with the way it looks. Anyway, this is one of those fun little books that I just adored the sound of. It suggests reading material that is suitable for whatever malady you are inflicted with. What an adorable idea.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Stranger Things
Stranger Things 2 came to Netflix on Friday. By the time I went to bed on Friday night (before a 7am start at work) I had watched all but 1 episode. This is something that my coworkers judged me on but I couldn’t stop. It was such a good season. Not sure it was as good as the first but it definitely wasn’t a let down. Now I want to go back through from the very beginning and watch both seasons in a row. Yes, there are things that didn’t quite work or needed a bit of tweaking but this show is still pheneomenal. Roll on Stranger Things 3

  • Gunpowder

Thanks to BBC iPlayer I’ve now watched all three episodes of the BBC’s gruesome drama about the gunpowder plot. I absolutely loved the first episode when I watched it. It was dark, yes, but it was dramatic. I can see why people complained about the violence: it all got a bit much at times. Unfortunately, it didn’t really move beyond violence as the episodes went on. I understand that the underlying historical basis is there but it felt like this show had little else to fall back on. I found myself bored for the most part and, let’s be honest, this isn’t a boring story. Yes, we all know how it ends but that shouldn’t mean it couldn’t be exciting. It felt like Kit Harrington and co didn’t really understand their purpose. For the most part they’re trying to justify the attempted murder but then it doesn’t really delve any deeper than the torture scenes. It all feels like a wasted opportunity to make something really good with really great actors.

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

Writing something in Blogger on an iPhone is fucking awful. Yes, I know this is starting off this post in the most #firstworldproblems kind of way but I’ve only been doing this for the length of the song Hit Me Baby One More Time and I already want to bash my head in. So, as you can probably guess, my laptop is still busted. I’m hoping I’ll have the tools I need by Monday otherwise Tuesday’s review is just going to written in emojis or summed up with one word. Either that or we’ll try voice to text and have a good laugh about how shit that technology is. In other news, I’ve spent all of today lying in bed feeling sorry for myself. I’ve had a cough for a few days and this is my first day off since I got it. Which means whatever is slowly ripping away the inside of my throat has successfully drained me of any energy. It’s just another good excuse for this post being so shit I guess. Have pity on a dying girl guv’nor.

Just Finished

  • New Cemetery by Simon Armitage
This collection of poetry is both tiny and lovely. I read it in about 5 minutes but I really liked it. Not entirely sure it was worth paying full price for. It’s illustrated as well but, again, it doesn’t really justify the £13 price tag. Great collection but disappointing price tag.


Currently Reading

  • Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
This was on my TBR Instagram photo for this month and, for the first time, I actually picked it up. I’ve not got too far but I already love everything about the writing. It’s beautiful. Can’t wait to really get stuck in. 

Recently Purchased 
  • New Cemetery by Simon Armitage

I went into my local bookshop on Saturday in honour of Bookshop day intending to only buy the new Books Are My Bag tote. I also accidentally picked up this small collection of poetry. It’s the Ilkley Literature festival at the moment and Simon Armitage was there the other day. This signed copy was calling tonne. It’s beautiful.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges:, Snack the Pony, Green Wing
So I’m now finished with NowTV and, considering they charged me after I cancelled my subscription, I probably won’t be going back. Despite this I’m not back to Netflix just yet. I intend to get it before Stranger Things series 2 comes out but, for now, I’m trying to focus on reading. I’ve still managed to binge thanks to Channel 4 catch-up and have spent the time in my such bed watching great comedies from my past. 

  • The World’s Emd 
I didn’t like this film when it first came out. My love of Edgar Wright is currently pretty strong so I decided it was worth another shot. See what I thought in my TBT review here.
SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

Going back to work after having a few days off last week proved to be extremely difficult. So, it came as a major surprise that I managed to keep on top of reading. I’ve decided I finally need to sort my sleeping habits out. Usually, I stay up way too late before work. This is mainly because I want to take full advantage of the time I have before I go back the next day. Just one of the major struggles of working in a job that you have zero passion for. Anyway, to get myself in better shape I’ve been trying to turn my computer off early and read for an hour or so before I go to bed. What usually happens now is that I get so engrossed in my book that I lose track of time but it’s an improvement, right? Whilst it may not be doing wonders for the amount of sleep I’m getting, it does mean that I’m making progress with my books read this year. I’ve finished another book finally. It takes a bit of pressure off after the 3/4 months that I spent getting through 7th Function. Fingers crossed it’s a sign things are improving.
Just Finished

  • One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus

So, as expected, I got through this book pretty quickly. I plan on writing my thoughts up for me Tuesday review so come back soon.


Currently Reading

  • The Answers by Catherine Lacey
This was the book I was supposed to read after I finished 7th Function so, after my brief detour, I decided to finally open it. This book has been top of my TBR pile for a while and I’m super intrigued about how it’s going to turn out. The premise sounds like something you’d seen in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror. A desperately ill and broke young woman signs up to take part in an actor’s girlfriend experience. Then, inevitably, the shit hits the fan. I’m hoping this is as good as it sounds.

Recently Purchased 
  • Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur

I have seen this book of poetry all over Instagram in the past few months and have desperately wanted it. With Kaur’s second collection of poetry being released next month and finding myself in an emotional state, I decided it was the perfect time to buy it. I’ve already read snippets so I’ll be glad to finally get to grips with this collection.

  • The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

On the same impromptu shopping trip that saw me buy Milk and Honey I also purchased this book. I’ll be honest, I only got this because I loved the cover. It’s a Penguin book and was so striking that I couldn’t not pick it up. Then I read the blurb and was hooked. This is the English language translation of the history of Soviet women in World War 2. Svetlana Alexievich wanted to tell the story of all of the strong women in her life who helped with the war effort but were deleted from official history. Now you all should know that I’m a lover of all things that show how great women are and this just sounds perfect. Combined with my love of history, I can’t think of a better book to get stuck into.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Modern Family, Travel Man
Took a slight break but I’m back on my Modern Family rewatch. It’s so awkward in the first few seasons but so funny. I had forgotten some of the great moments that happened early on. At the same time, I watched the Channel 4 series Travel Man in which Richard Ayoade, a man I love intensely, spend 48 hours in a city with a famous person. It’s funny, informative and really makes me want to get on a plane.
SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

Yesterday marked the start of my holiday from work and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve needed some time off and am planning on making use of it whilst I can. Knowing me, though, this will actually entail me sleeping til noon every day and then wasting my days in front of Netflix. Hopefully, I’ll get some reading done and some actual stuff accomplished. I’m definitely planning on seeing The Ghost in the Shell later on this week. I’m not sure how I feel about it but have some faith in it. I feel pretty safe with Scarlett Johansson but the film hasn’t done well so far. I can’t tell if that’s because it is genuinely bad or because people are just boycotting because of the whitewashing outrcry. I understand why people are pissed, obviously. There is a problem with casting white actors in roles that should be filled with Asian actors and Hollywood continues to deny that that problem exists. However, I’ll give the film a chance because that’s what I do. And because my friend really wants to go and see it. No doubt you’ll see my thoughts on here very soon.

Just Finished
  • Little Black Classics
In order to shamelessly get my reading count up for March I ingested a few of these LBC. I got through The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti, A Modest Proposal by Jonathan Swift, O frabjous day! by Lewis Carroll, and On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts by Thomas De Quincey. They were all as fabulous as these books always are and I succeeded in making it seem as though I’d read more books this month than I would have done.

Currently Reading
  • The Best of Adam Sharp by Graeme Simsion
Slowly getting on with this one and, quite frankly, I love it. At first I didn’t think that it was quite as engaging as The Rosie Project but I think I’m actually liking it more now. I realise that Adam Sharp is a bit of a cad but he is an understandable one. Everything he does seems realistic and is reminiscent of how normal people would act in those situations. It feels more representative of real life than The Rosie Project ever did. 
Recently Purchased
  • So Much Poetry
I got a bit excited yesterday and ordered a few books of poetry. I didn’t need to but I’m just in the mood for poetry right now. They are all contemporary poets who mostly deal with issues about love but that’s fine with me. I just need to get back into poetry. The works I bought are: Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine von Radics, the princess saves herself in this one by Amanda Lovelace, and No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay.

Recently Watched
  • Lego Batman
I have to admit that I was excited to see this film and I wasn’t disappointed. Find out more in my review last Tuesday.

  • Batman and Robin
Re-watched this 90s classic, which is so often called the worst film ever made. Weirdly, my TBT review didn’t just consist of me criticising it. Want to find out more, check out my review.
  • Netflix binges: 24
I have to admit this week’s Netflix binge wasn’t actually a Netflix binge. I’ve gone back to my collection of 24 DVDs and have finished season 5 and started season 6 in the past few days. I love season 5 because of Martha Logan and Aaron Pierce. Fabulous. Of course, it presents sadness from the heartbreaking death of Edgar. I’ve never gotten over that one. However, season 6 is, perhaps, the worst series of the whole show. It’s so boring and everything gets bogged down in politics and the Bauer family drama. I don’t give a shit about his brother or sister-in-law. I just want him to fuck up more terrorists.