The Top 10 Lifesaving Poems


I began writing the Lifesaving Poems series of blog posts in May 2010. The idea was to celebrate the poems that I had spent the previous year copying by hand into a notebook. This is a personal anthology of arbitrary tastes and rules: to include a poem I had to be able to remember where I was when I first read or heard it; and I only allowed myself one poem per poet (yes, I know, William Blake got in with two).

Here are the Top Ten most popular poems visited on my site so far:

‘Alone’ by Tomas Tranströmer

The connecting of the familiar and everyday to an abstract and real state of terror.

‘The Picnic’ by John Logan

The poem which acted as a kind of gateway for me into the world of poetry.

‘Prayer’ by Marie Howe

The apparently unresolvable tension between pressing realities and the call of something other.

‘May the Silence Break’ by Brendan Kennelly

Redemption and healing in the art of making, speaking, listening to and reading poems.

‘Psalm 102’ vs. ‘Chemotherapy’ by Julia Darling

‘The smallest things are gifts’

‘Caring for the Environment’ by Mandy Sutter

To write poetry, you need to be in relationship with poetry.

‘Night Drive’ by Seamus Heaney

How far is an artist ever fully present in their inhabited circumstances and therefore necessarily prey to the guile required to craft poetry from experience?

‘Let a Place be Made’ by Yves Bonnefoy

 I hold the poem in my hand, like a pebble turned over repeatedly, searching for solace, even as it grows dark.

‘With Only One Life’ by Marin Sorescu

Each participating poet had to recite from memory ten minutes of their poetry.

‘The Black Wet’ by WN Herbert

A beautifully paced reading, with proper peaks and troughs, moments of slapstick comedy followed by lyrical grace; towering rage followed by barehanded grief.

You can read the full list of Lifesaving Poems here

You can read the newest entry in the Lifesaving Poems series here

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