As Father’s Day moves into view, what do you give a father who already has enough socks to fill every drawer in the house? The answer is poetry – poems about cricket, bicycles, gardening; poems about fathers and about fatherhood itself. And also now, poems about cricket and war.
I’ve always loved reading poetry, but sometimes that isn’t an easy passion to share. Many people are afraid of it – perhaps they’ve been put off by studying poetry at school, where we’re told we have to know exactly what the poet is trying to tell us, or we feel it’s too difficult to understand. But many of the first books we read as children are written in rhyme, and we all know and love far more poetry than we realise – from nursery rhymes and nonsense to snatches of half-remembered verse. In times of crisis, or at the end of life when other memories recede, the verses we learned as children can still be called easily to mind – as proved by other poetry evangelists such as Deborah Alma, the Emergency Poet, who uses poetry in workshops with dementia sufferers.
At Candlestick Press, we’re passionate about bringing poetry to people in an age where everyone is short of time, but a quick fix of something touching and meaningful can make a big difference to your daily life. Our mission is to spread poetry far and wide, as well as getting people to send proper post again. It’s such a great – and increasingly unusual – pleasure to open a handwritten envelope and find something lovely inside. Our pamphlets are designed to be posted instead of a card (so they come complete with envelopes and bookmarks) and because each collection contains a handful of carefully selected poems, we believe people will enjoy dipping into them even if they might find a full anthology or collection daunting.
Our subjects are often suggested by readers, and Ten Poems about Cricket has definitely been published by popular demand. It’s now flying off the press at just the moment that cricket balls are flying across village greens and sports fields. Meanwhile, Ten War Poems coincides with the centenary year of the Battle of the Somme, one of the largest and bloodiest battles of World War I in which more than a million men were wounded or killed. Former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has selected ten war poems that broaden the subject away from the familiar work of famous World War I poets such as Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg and Rupert Brooke, highlighting instead a range of voices from different countries, from ancient history to the present day. We’re incredibly moved by his selection and hope you will be too.
Both publications continue our mission: to get poetry into the hands of people who love it, and also people who will love it but don’t know that yet. And we’re always on the lookout for inspiration for future pamphlets – so do tell us if there’s an enthusiasm of yours that should be marked with one of our publications! All ideas very welcome.
Di Slaney, Candlestick Press (June 2016)