Mean Time – Carol Ann Duffy
We studied this collection during my final year of secondary school, and these were the first poems I read that made me want to read poetry for pleasure, not just to pass an exam. I was recently given a new clean copy, replacing the one I’d scribbled over when I studied it at school, and so I’ve been enjoying re-reading some old favourites with their white space restored.
Brood – Rhian Edwards
It felt inevitable that I would pick a collection from Wales, and this is one of my favourites published in the last few years: a sequence built upon the nursery rhyme ‘One for Sorrow’ that charts the course of a troubled relationship. Rhian Edwards is brilliant at character sketching, and the sequence’s conceit never becomes too heavy-handed, with magpies and other feathered creatures flitting lightly between the poems’ branches.
North of the Cities – Louis Jenkins
Robert Bly called Louis Jenkins the “contemporary master” of the prose poem, but he’s also just a fantastic storyteller. The meta-fiction poems in North of the Cities are ones I’ll often return to, especially if I need a good, wholesome laugh.
The Perseverance – Raymond Antrobus
The most recent collection that I read and loved, The Perseverance meditates upon the d/Deaf experience while also tackling other issues such as bereavement, race and violence. Raymond Antrobus is a remarkable poet, and fully deserves all the plaudits and accolades he’s received for this stunning debut – I recommend picking up a copy if you haven’t read it yet.
Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times – ed. Neil Astley
This anthology is my poetry bible; I’ve discovered so many of my favourite poems and poets by simply opening it on a random page. With 500 poems to leaf through it’s a bit of a tome, but there’s something comforting about its weight. And even if you do manage to exhaust it cover to cover, there are two sequels: Being Alive and Being Human.
Rhys Owain Williams is a writer from Swansea, Wales. His first poetry collection, That Lone Ship, was published by Parthian in 2018. Rhys is co-editor of The Crunch and The Ghastling magazines, and is the literature co-ordinator for The Swansea Fringe. He became a Hay Festival Writer at Work in 2017. firstname.lastname@example.org