Best of 2019

I just saw this ‘best-of-2019’ list (is it December already?) in The Guardian and, well, I put these books into my ‘must-read’ for 2020. The best poetry of a year that has almost gone, some from poets I have never heard of, hitting the high spots against ‘racism, authoritarianism and masculinity’.

It is a message that good poetry, the best poetry, has to stand for something. Or against something. And there is a lot going on, that should not go on, that perhaps needs poetry to be its record keeper. There’s a lovely literary journal called ‘Poets reading the News’ that does this in real time. They call it ‘Journalism in Verse’.

But there is brilliant, visceral poetry that is written with the ooze from raw wounds – demanding, pleading, crying for the world to be a better place. There is also poetry filled with the raw materials of moonlight and dawn sky, whispering, whistling, dancing the world into a more beautiful state. That poetry too, is often birthed from pain.

Do you wonder how your poetry fits into the real world? If it does? Slotting in like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle or just waiting like too many consonants in a scrabble play hoping someone will open up a few vowels on the board?

the more I show you
a mirror –
the more I see my own face


And why a haibun (not a haibun, just haibun-esque let’s say) came about today will remain a subject for a later post.

35 thoughts on “Best of 2019

  1. Lovely haibun-esque, and also brilliant post. Yes, it seems poetry has to stand for or against something. There’s so much injustice in this world. But I also believe good poetry should delight as it captures beauty of the ordinary, making it extraordinary. Of course, “good” is always a subjective viewpoint. 🙂


    1. Thank you, Khaya. If the poet believes in the poem at the time of writing – it will be a good poem, even if no one else agrees 🙂 A lot that’s happening with poetry blogging and social media makes me wonder (worry, actually) about where it’s all heading.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Your poems respond to the outside world but also resonate from the wealth of wisdom inside you – so I’d love to hear the results of your pondering, Susan! As always, I have questions but no answers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love this especially; “Do you wonder how your poetry fits into the real world? If it does? Slotting in like the missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle.” ❤️


  3. Wonderful haibun-esque…I believe the world is made better when we see ourselves in each other. Also, I believe we can grow in leaps and bounds when we learn to harvest lessons and grow from joy as much as we do from pain. I think they are equally valuable and I think a balance between the two are necessary.


  4. I loved this today–I find it hard to write on the situation in the US right now–I think I am just too angry and too sad about it–every time I try, it just feels like a rant–but I love it when I read it!


  5. I know a lot of artists (whatever the genre) feel activism in environmental or politics or whatever the social issue is so very important – that entertaining or pure beauty is not their path. I think artists give a voice and motivation to those who then might act and do something. But to say that “good or the best” poetry is of that nature is false (to me). Just like there are so many types of novels, poetry is that for me as well. I have written a few poems that fall “gently” into “your arena” but for the most part I think I probably speak with a different voice – and I need that – to immerse myself for hours in activism just would drive me into a crazed state. I had a friend who just last week went to see Madonna at a concert – and the whole concert was political and a lot of people walked out. I probably would have to. I really just want to hear her sing her music, relive my past. But she can reinvent herself – but it should be made very clear that that is what the concert is going to focus on IMO.


    1. Yes, unfortunately poetry with its limited readership, seems to appeal to a wider audience only when it is related to a cause they espouse. So all other genres fall through the cracks. Poets (and all artists for that matter) need only be true to themselves and not succumb to such “false” burdens. Thanks so much, Margaret.


  6. And your “haiku” … reminds me of when my youngest son has a temper burst … and I see MY impatience, MY words are the one he is repeating/imitating.


  7. Very interesting! Thanks for this! I find I am struggling to remain grateful for this gift of life … in these truly trying times …. particularly as I have grandchildren … who well, no doubt, have much less to be grateful for in this climate-challenged world than I have had. But without gratitude, sadness rushes in, I think … to fill the void … and so I try.


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