Celebrate World Poetry Day on the 21st of March 2021 with Virago Books.
We’ve gathered some of our favourite poetry collections published by us here at Virago that we think you’ll love.
by Maya Angelou
A beautiful and inspiring collection of poetry by Maya Angelou, author of I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS and 'a brilliant writer, a fierce friend and a truly phenomenal woman' (BARACK OBAMA).
'I write about being a Black American woman, however, I am always talking about what it's like to be a human being. This is how we are, what makes us laugh, and this is how we fall and how we somehow, amazingly, stand up again' Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou's poetry - lyrical and dramatic, exuberant and playful - speaks of love, longing, partings; of Saturday night partying, and the smells and sounds of Southern cities; of freedom and shattered dreams.
'Her poetry is just as much a part of her autobiography as I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and the volumes that follow.' Kirkus
'It is true poetry she is writing . . . it has an innate purity about it, unquenchable dignity' M. F. K. Fisher
by Anne Carson
From the critically acclaimed poet and classicist Anne Carson: a brilliant new translation of the work of Sappho, together with the original Greek.
During her life on the island of Lesbos, Sappho is said to have composed nine books of lyrics. Only one poem has survived complete. In IF NOT, WINTER, Carson presents all the extant fragments of Sappho's verse, employing brackets and white space to denote missing text - allowing the reader to imagine the poems as they were written.
Carson says of her method of translation: 'I like to think that, the more I stand out of the way, the more Sappho shows through.' And certainly her translation illuminates Sappho's reflections on love and desire, her companions and rivals, the goddess Aphrodite, her own daughter, Kleis. IF NOT, WINTER gives us an extraordinary ancient poet brought alive by a brilliantly empathetic contemporary poet. Complete with Carson's introduction and notes, it will become the standard translation of Sappho for our time.
From the author of The Handmaid's Tale and Dearly
I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.
Eating Fire brings together three of Margaret's Atwood's key poetry collections: Poems 1965-1975, Poems 1976-1986 and Morning in the Burned House.
The landscape of Atwood's poetry is one of bus trips and postcards, wilderness, glass, and fires both savage and tender. Atwood's signature themes resound throughout all of them: the politics of sex, the darkness at the heart of every fairytale, and the pain - and triumph - of existing as a woman.
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'Atwood is the quiet Mata Hari, the mysterious, violent figure . . . who pits herself against the ordered too-clean world like an arsonist' - Michael Ondaatje
'Detached, ironic, loving by turns . . . poems that sing off the page and sting' - Michèle Roberts
Josephine Hart, author of the bestselling novel Damage, had what she called 'a long love affair' with poetry. It was an affair that started as a child and lasted until her untimely death at the age of sixty-nine in 2011. She said 'I was a word child' growing up in Ireland 'a country of word children where life was language before it was anything else'. As a teenager and later she found the poetry of Eliot, Larkin, Yeats and others a lifeline,'a route map through life'.
In the late 1980s, Hart, by now a successful West End theatre producer, began a hugely popular event in which actors read the words of the great poets to an enraptured audience. In 2004, The Josephine Hart Poetry Hour moved to the British Library, where it remains today. By her own admission, Josephine Hart gave 'dead poets society' . But she also gave them intelligent and exciting introductions; all of which are now collected here in this volume. They are insightful, even great, works in their own right.
Life Saving leaves us an inspiring legacy. It takes us on a journey of the imagination to some of the greatest poems written in the English language and allows us to understand, intuitively and deeply, why poetry matters.