100 Poets by John Carey

3 out of 5 stars

A copy of this was provided free of charge from the publisher in return for an honest review.

Poems seem such fleeting, transitory things. Yet these short verses of words that carry so much meaning have been with us since people have been able to write things down. The cross over between the spoken word, song and poetry has a long history too.

In this very personal collection by John Cary, he has selected the 100 poets that mean the most to him and he begins the collection with the words of Homer whose words were first written down by others over 2000 years ago. Sappho is his second selection who is thought to have lived from 630 – 570 bc but almost nothing is known of her.

There are the poets that I expected to find in here, Tennyson, Larkin, Plath and Hughes as well as finding that some people I had heard of, Edgar Allan Poe and D.H. Lawrence who had also written poetry.

I thought that this was a solid introduction to the 100 poets that are particular favourites of John Carey. There are of course some that I have heard of and even read before. But there are a large number that I had not come across before and a greater number of poets in here whose work I had bever read before.

I now have a list of others to read at some point soon. I did feel that it was missing contemporary poets who are writing today and creating classics that we will appreciate in years to come.

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  1. I have open beside me a book with an introduction by John Carey. It’s Under the Eye of the Clock by Christopher Nolan, a severely physically handicapped Irishman who came to attention with his remarkable poetry at the age of 15 in 1981. His autobiography came out in 1987 and won the Whitbread Prize. Parts of it are written in an impenetrable flood of alliteration with novel word use that makes those parts difficult to read, but his writing was extraordinary. I wonder if he made it into Carey’s 100?

    • Paul

      Not come across Christopher Nolan, but he didn’t make it into the book sadly

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