It feels strange to approach a book with a judgemental frame of mind. At University I became used to dissecting literature but rarely criticised them or ranked them against each other.

I found it hardest to pit the poetry collections against each other as each was so different and therefore, intending to do different things. Complex doesn’t necessarily equal successful and simple doesn’t mean basic or lacking.

I actually found Farm by the Shore by Thomas A. Clark to be one of my favourites of the six collections because of it’s simplicity. The typeface, generous white space on the page and stanzas themselves suggested clarity and calm to me. I didn’t have to struggle for understanding, which I found refreshing in the often opaque world of poetry.

I have always been fascinated by the often visual aspect of poetry and so I was drawn to  Moon for Sale by Richard Price. In particular, ‘The Clouds are Ships and Islands, the Mountains are Islands and Ships, above a Calm Solid Sea’ (60), was just really fun to look at- let alone read. I felt the pattern helped to guide the poem’s reading and meaning.

Similarly, ‘Paris Hotel’ by Em Strang (12-13) felt playful in its layout and entertained me immensely. Even when dealing with the collections that weren’t quite to my taste, I could still appreciate the skill and complexity of each one. I just feel that there were some poems which definitely would have benefitted from a tutorial on how best to read them and their many nuances!

I enjoyed being part of the poetry panel as poetry is something I have only ever dabbled in and have always wished to read more of. However, it’s a broad genre to walk into blind. This was a great gateway in and I’ll definitely be reading more in the future.