Poetry has always been a part of my life; ask me for a memory related to poetry and I'll give you a hundred. Sitting on my Grans knee reading The Tyger with tea and toast in the early morning, reading Invictus for the first time in the pit of depression... understanding the serenity that death can bring after reading Immortality. It's all one big tapestry.
You see, poetry, lyricism, and the spoken word has been a part of Scottish history and culture since before this tiny country was one kingdom, and it's not always been high-brow.
Rabbie Burns is undoubtedly the most renowned Scots poet. My dad used to read me Tam O'Shanter as a toddler, which was an... interesting choice, but Scottish children from all kinds of households will be subjected to Address to a Haggis every Burns' Night. Despite this, my favourite Scottish poem has to be one on the naughty side; a strange praise poem written by Isabella, Countess of Argyll in around 1500 - spoiler it's about a penis.
Being 'Vocal' About Poetry
My Top 10 Vocal Poems
It wasn't until joining Vocal that I started to share poetry. The community here has been wonderful, and I want to give some of that love back. So, if you're new to vocal, or poetry, these are my top 10 poems from Vocal creators - be sure to show them some love if you enjoy the entries as much as I do!
Reqiuem - Audrey Larkin
Though I'm no expert in poetic form, Reqiuem feels like the perfect balance of tradition and modernity, to me. The changes in rhythm and the pictures interspersed with the words somehow feel incredibly appropriate for the subject matter; grief.
I haven't seen a poem on Vocal that captures the desperation and denial that grief brings quite as well as this one does, and the steady wind down feels like a kind of healing. It's a wonderful ode to the way that grief mellows but never goes away.
Eggshell Treadmill - Violet P. Davies
It's hard to deny that the modern world puts a huge amount of pressure on young people today (and even harder to admit that my own teenage years are starting to become fuzzy memories). I may be nearly thirty, but Violet Davies Eggshell Treadmill perfectly encapsulates the strange feeling of elated dread and stress that being a teenager caused in me.
The feeling of being so young and still believing that you are running out of time is infused in every line. God, I wouldn't go back to my teenage years if you paid me.
Gang? Bang! - Naomi Gold
Poetry has an undeserved reputation as a stuffy, slightly esoteric art; Gang? Bang! dispels that with good humour and the kind of vulgar side eye that I personally live for. Light, choppy, and kind of charming in a rude way, it's everything I love in a poem... with a little dash of spice.
Probably not the best read for your morning commute though; unless you want that one person who always reads over your shoulder on the train to remember you forever, that is.
Fat - No One
Hidden in the recesses of the Poets archive, Fat almost seemed to find me. I stumbled across it in the aftermath of a bad breakup, and it's stuck with me since. The visceral anger and sadness that seep through it felt a little too familiar, maybe.
A poem about body, self, and the realization that your partner, no matter what they say, cares more about your weight than you ever realized. It's heavy, but it's hard to ignore the authenticity that shines in every line.
Language - Kendall Defoe
I love poetry that transports you, and Language is one that does this so well it astounds me every time I read it. The imagery is so strong that I can almost smell that sharp 'old paper and cleaning products' scent that's so common in libraries and academic offices.
But beneath that, there's a deeper meaning, almost a sadness, and layers of implications that make this short poem incredibly complex.
Another Flower in the Sun - Kelly Robertson
Poetry can be vital and lively and playful; Another Flower in the Sun is a perfect example of that. The visual elements created with altered text are one of the best things I've seen recently if I'm honest. Something about seeing the words leap, stretch and bend made me smile, but the poem itself is wonderful.
I love the steady, almost trotting rhythm and the joyful celebration of such an ordinary thing.
For My Human - Nattalie Gordon
The best word to describe For my Human is charming. I'm a chronic animal lover and a proud dog mum, I know, I know cringe, so maybe I'm biased but this poem just made me grin and laugh. The balance between touching on serious, deep emotions and the irreverent, almost childlike language is so perfect for the topic.
I can almost imagine my dogs looking up at me and thinking - 'we make the best team, my human and me.'
Whiffs of Wonder - Jody Randall
This is a bit of a last-minute addition; ever wondered what life would be like without deodorant? Apparently, Jody has and, like me, she's horrified at the idea. I read this today over a cup of tea and found myself giggling helplessly. The old-timey poetic structure and language turn a simple poem into a real love letter to deodorant.
I'll never look at my Sure roll-on the same way again!
Commute - Rachel Pieper Decker
I love the fact that Commute mixes poetic language and long-form sentences; it's like a poem and flash fiction had a baby. Under this fun and welcoming format is a sweet poem about the moment when the workday lets you go and you can simply be again.
I can almost feel the concrete under my feet and feel the relief of sinking into the drivers' seat, the door closing with a satisfying clunk.
The Ghosts of Yesterday - Khudair Ahmed Shaikh
A bittersweet end to this list; there is no denying that our pasts shape us, and sometimes haunt us. The familiarity of the rhyming scheme, the rhythm, and the simple clear language of The Ghosts of Yesterday really made me smile; it feels gentle and warm. Like someone smiling as they tell you about their favourite family memories.
If you need a poem to brighten your day, this is a strong contender.