Tuesday, 21 May 2019

The Stone Soup Book of Poetry

I should blog about poetry more than I do, I feel, but sometimes  a single poem is like a single book and I could end up writing about every single poem in an anthology! It requires a different style of reviewing in many ways. But I jumped at the opportunity to secure a copy of this delightful volume of verse. 

Stone soup is an international literary magazine and website publishing writing and art by young people under the age of 14. Founded in 1973, it’s published more creative work by children than any other publisher selecting the very best from thousands of submissions every year. I am extremely grateful to Librarything for sending me this copy.

You can find out more about the work of Stone Soup here - https://stonesoup.com

This anthology of poetry is a diverse collection covering a variety of subjects. As might be expected from children their insights can often touch a truth that elude the wisest of adults! And it can be expressed so succinctly and with such feeling. 

‘To live in this moment
Is to be grateful
For what I have and love and am’

From ‘’Morning Walk’ by Mark Roberts 13

What is astounding and humbling is the depth of emotion and mature perception expressed by poets of such tender years. It all but takes your breath away. Many an adult would be proud to have created something reaching half the depths of some of these works. 

‘Leaving Papa
resting in his grave
made me dispirited, made me despairing.
I miss him
Listening to Louis Armstrong,
Reading the poetry of Leopold Senghor,
 calling me his cherie.’

From ‘Homesickness’ by Soujourner Salil Ahebee 10

The 120 poems in this book were written by poets between the ages of 4 and 13. They were originally published in Stone Soup Magazine between 1988 and 2011. But for me they are timeless. The poems are fluidly arranged into thematic sections, Seasons, Friends & Family, Animals, Night, Nature and Reflections. 

‘Alone is the homeless man looking at all the goods
in the grocery market that he cannot have
Alone is the refugees leaving all they ever knew behind,
their friends, their houses
Alone is the single pillar
Standing in the rubble of a bombed building
Alone is the Iraqi mother whose children have died
From lack of medical care
 Alone is the turban among a thousand baseball caps’

‘Alone’ by Brendan Grant 11

The temptation is to quote from every single poem so rich is the language and so pure the expression. What also amazed me was that reading through the poems it was impossible to guess at the age of the poet. From the youngest to the oldest there was imagination, a reverence and understanding of the power of language to express our innermost thoughts from the simple to the complex. There’s a celebration and respect for our natural world alongside the confusion surrounding complex emotions of loss and the dynamics of people.

Does anything exist at this hour,
when my footsteps crash,
and my breathing screams?
When every slight movement I make,
Feels like a leap?
When I'm all alone,
my house is quiet.
Outside the streetlights blur, 
and twist themselves into shapes that
spotlight on the patch of gravel, 
that's empty.
No one is there,
to stand in that spotlight, 
and listen to the applause,
of the grass, blowing
in the wind.
And I am inside,
looking out,
at an empty place,
that I wish were

Empty spotlight by Cora W Busher 13

This collection of poems demonstrates an instinct for language and an understanding of the medium of poetry to express ideas and feelings that feels so natural. I wonder if these children, many of whom must be adults by now, are still writing? It's made me wonder whether the younger we are the purer and more instinctive we are about using language to express our deepest thoughts and feelings, maybe children are less self conscious too? I would be proud to have written any of the poems in this collection. 

My heartfelt gratitude to Jane from the Stone Soup Foundation for giving me permission to quote from this anthology. You can find this book and others at the Stone Soup Store.
stonesoupstore.com but there are several available from Amazon UK too. 

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