From the review archive: Reading Poetry reviewed “…one of the most thoroughly enjoyable books of poetry…”

This review was so lovely we thought we would share it with you again and point to the reviewer Dr. Todd Swift’s blog on which it first appeared way back in 2011.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011
Review: Reading Poetry
I have received, recently, one of the most thoroughly enjoyable books of poetry I have read of late – Reading Poetry: An Anthology. From Two Rivers Press, and edited by Peter Robinson, it puns on the fact that this is actually a very local anthology, of poets writing from and about the much-maligned town of Reading (home to Ricky Gervais). Robinson observes that Rimbaud had an address here; Jane Austen was schooled here; Wilde was gaoled here.

What makes the anthology so refreshing is that it isn’t grandiose in its claims – this isn’t the best of anything. Indeed, Robinson’s introduction is a model of true modesty. These are simply poems by Reading-based poets, each prefaced with a poet’s commentary on how this place has or hasn’t impacted on them. As it turns out, Reading, for all its small-town Englishness, has a thriving poetry community.

The poems – mostly in the Larkin line – are well-written, observational, clever, and amusing. I was moved by their calm, lyrical approach. Included are the poets Paul Bavister, Jane Draycott, A.F. Harrold, Kate Noakes, Gill Learner, Susan Utting, and Adrian Blamires, among others. Not a bad poet in the lot. This collection reminds us of what is great about English poetry, despite its foibles, spats, conservative twinges and celebrity culture – its continuity, its depth of field, and its constant surprising relationship to wherever it happens to find itself.

Any reader outside of England wanting a glimpse into what living in a less-than-metropolitan city over here is like, and how poets get on with words day to day, should get this exemplary beautifully-made collection.

Dr. Todd Swift is an internationally-recognised poet, editor and anthologist. He has published eight full poetry collections, and edited or co-edited numerous international anthologies of note. He is Director of Eyewear Publishing, and Senior Lecturer at Kingston University, UK.