World Poetry Day falls on Saturday 21st March 2020. It’s one of our favourite literary dates and this year we have a gorgeous anthology to share with you. Poems From a Green & Blue Planet edited by Sabrina Mahfouz is a collection of poems from around the globe. Traversing both time and space, you’ll find yourself wandering lonely as a cloud with Wordsworth, and communing with the birds in a vibrant modern Arabic ode. Welcome to the world in verse.
A deliciously eclectic mix, Nature’s elements and seasons are presented from different perspectives. Water, for example, is urgently summoned in the joyfully raucous Aboriginal Community Rain Song. ‘Rain come down…you great sky ones, fill dry waterhole.’ But in the affecting Bengali poem Tsunami, water is destruction, a swallowing sea. ‘Tsunami! You thief of land.’ Wind is ‘a small child singing,’ while scattering seed and spice across the land and conversely, a wild woman with silver hair and ‘electricity for eyes.’
The poetic energy of this collection is exhilarating, with something to suit every mood, from the evocative song of a Navajo weaver to the comic mortification of a clumsy earthquake ‘bumpyty-thumping’ his way to chaos. The colonisation and plundering of the Earth is also addressed. In a powerful new poem by Kate Tempest, we meet Mother Earth.
‘Arms loaded with the trophies of her most successful child
The pylons and mines
The powerplants shimmer in her still, cool breath.’
She’s watching the fate of her children unfold.
And my favourite poem? Well, that’s easy. It’s Peace and Pancakes by the late great Adrian Mitchell. He reminds us of two things that unite us all. Everybody wants peace, and surely everybody appreciates a decent pancake (or two). Mitchell takes us around the globe on a pancake tour. Dosas for breakfast in India, Russian blinis, red-hot quesadillas in Mexico City, lashings of Canadian maple syrup. ‘Long live the planet Earth…long live peace and pancakes.’
Poems From a Green & Blue Planet edited by Sabrina Mahfouz is published by Hodder’s Children’s Books, 464 pages.