Lunch Poems – Frank O’Hara
A favourite poet. This was released as part of the City Lights Pocket Poets Series. For a period of time I took it everywhere; in my back pocket, in my top pocket, in my inside pocket. They’re moving poems, designed for living. I’ve lost track of my copy somewhere along the way, probably still travelling on the X7 bus.
Cavafy seems to exist outside of time. He’s in the bedroom with you but also on the mountain tops dining with the gods. He wrote books of longing. His poems put me in mind of nights in Greece, sat on a balcony with only stray cats and mosquitoes for company. Shared loneliness.
Chronicles – Bob Dylan
As a part time Dylanologist, I was concerned by a tell all autobiography. Luckily it’s as mysterious and misleading as you would hope. He describes rooms he slept in one night forty years ago in sharp detail whilst elsewhere whole decades are forgotten. The whole thing is a magic trick. Dylan detectives would later identify much of it was lifted from other sources, but this only makes me like it more.
Men Without Women – Ernest Hemingway
This was a seminal book for me. For a nervous eighteen year old it was dynamite. It felt like tough guy poetry, words to make you bullet proof.
The ultimate bedside table poet. Simic finds shadow in the most banal moments. He’ll describe opening a wardrobe or putting on his shoes and paint a bloodied history of the world and man’s cruelty to man. Perfect bedtime reading.
Tom Harding in Northampton UK. His first book of poems, Night Work, was published in 2017 by Palewell Press. Harding is also the editor of the The Northampton Poetry Review. www.tomharding.net