Edited by Zoë Brigley & Kristian Evans
This is a fascinating anthology, for a number of reasons. The first is, perhaps, the breadth of knowledge of contemporary poetry displayed by the editors who have compiled it for Seren. They have scoured not only well-trodden poetical paths, but much less well-known by-ways too. In this way they have brought to the reader’s attention poetry which might otherwise have escaped her notice.
If you don’t read a lot of work by living poets, then this is a perfect opportunity to flit and sip among the many, incredibly varied, very talented, poets working today. I found friends, favourites and heroes amongst the contributors (sometimes all at once). I read new work by people whose work I have on my bookshelf, and whose readings I have attended over the years. There is also work from poets whose Zoom readings I have enjoyed over the past two years. Poetry does not sleep in these parlous times. Poetry being written and published now is engaged, vibrant, and has important things to say.
Not only do the poetical forms used by the poets in 100 Poems run the gamut, they explore the theme in its broadest senses. The editors’ introduction is a powerful polemic for what follows. However, even by such a variety of hands, 100 poems purely on demonstrably environmental and/or ecological issues, unleavened, would’ve perhaps been a bit much. 100 poems is a lot of poems. I did find the reasons for including some of the poems a little opaque. But each poem has something of importance to say on its own terms.
This is, perhaps, a book to be dipped into over time. I read poetry on the loo (don’t judge me), because I find that the perfect particle of time to read a poem (aloud) and think about it before resuming my day. This one took four months to read in that way. If you hurl yourself at it I fear you may find it has much the same effect as a Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster might (yes, I am that old: again, don’t judge me).
This much I believe is indisputable: poetry has an important role to play in conserving the earth, alongside the other arts – which are lining up alongside science in the battle to save it. Never has poetry been more available, more about ‘now’, and created by more, talented, people. As an artistic form for modern people with three-minute attention spans, poetry is of course the perfect, persuasive tool to use to save the Earth. Seren, the publisher of this book, rides the forefront of the new wave of poetry and this book enhances their already excellent reputation.
This anthology is a perfect example of what modern poetry can do and I recommend it to you heartily.
If you enjoy this, I recommend to you also Merryn Williams’ compilation Poems For The Year 2020: Eighty Poets On The Pandemic which ranges both broadly and deeply over our current Covid Times. (Full disclosure: I’ve got a poem in that one.)