It would have been churlish of me not to mention poetry in this seven-day book challenge. So, on this my last day, my book of choice is my current squeeze, Fishing in the Aftermath by Salena Godden …
… one of the most creative, arresting and inspiring poets I’ve come across.
I bought this book in February after seeing Salena perform an astounding set at the Verve Poetry festival in Birmingham. I love spoken word and when it also comes together in print, as this does; when it flies off the page at you, it’s a truly wonderful thing.
Fishing in the Aftermath is a collection of Godden’s poems that spans twenty years, 1994 – 2014. Some of them are more like short, quite often disturbing, stories. Some of them are funny; some are angry; some tender; some sad and some are all of those things and more. All of them are remarkable. Her accounts of being stranded in New York when 9/11 happened, document so vividly the human reaction to something so unspeakable in a way that makes you stop and think – how would I have behaved?
Another favourite is When I Heard the Man, dedicated to Gil Scott-Heron and Martin Luther King. Of course, I know about Martin Luther King. I was nine when he was murdered but, if I’m honest, the death of an American preacher didn’t really get a mention in my white, working-class English family. To be fair, I doubt JFK’s assassination would have either. But as I grew up and became more aware, I began to see more clearly the importance of this man. I came even later to Gil Scott-Heron – getting to know the works of the older Gil first of all – but I like to think my maturity made them resonate with me all the more. I couldn’t get enough of them. So, reading this brought it all back to me and I was there with Salena, falling ‘into sky blue’ too.
If you think poetry’s not your thing, try this. It’s wild and anarchic. Punk poetry at its best.