Freebie of the week

3rd November 2006 at 00:00
Catching Life by the Throat: How to read poetry and why. By Josephine Hart. Virago, published at pound;15

Josephine Hart, novelist and producer, runs the popular monthly Poetry Hour sessions at the British Library at which actors perform the work of well-known poets. This book, inspired by those evenings, is being sent free to all secondary schools this month. Hart intends it, and its accompanying CD of Poetry Hour performances, to restore to young people the appreciation of the "oral tradition" of poetry. There are selections from eight poets (Auden, Dickinson, Eliot, Kipling, Larkin, Moore, Plath and Yeats) and Hart provides biographical information and introductions to each. Both the selections and Hart's contributions are A2 standard; the poetry isn't easily accessible and her name-dropping (to Sartre, to critics, to Fellini) would need explanation. So I'm not sure who's being targeted here. The live recordings (coughing included) will certainly help with showing students how to read poetry. Some might need more help with the "why" than this book provides.

Fran Hill teaches English at Hampton school, Middlesex

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