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Megan's Sealey Challenge - Week 1

Titles read: Sujata Bhatt A Colour For Solitude (Carcanet), Too Young Too Loud Too Different (Corsair), Co-Incidental 1 (The Black Light Engine Room), Ten Poems From Scotland (Candlestick Press), Ten Poems about Cats (Candlestick Press), The Debate Society 15-Second Plays (Ugly Duckling Presse), Rowan McCabe Hopeless Romantic (National Trust)

Hello PBS! Megan here. I’m the new recruit at the PBS. You may have spotted me in last week’s e-newsletter, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you all as I fulfil your orders and answer your emails. I’m thrilled to be a guest blogger this month as I tackle my first ever Sealey Challenge!

As a Sealey Challenge newbie, my first week has been a little ragtag. On the sideboard in my living room is a stack of poetry books and pamphlets that had until now sat unread on my shelves, and every morning I whip one off the top or out of the middle (a chunkier one on a bus-to-work day, skinnier on weekends or days when I’m working from home). After a strong start I ended up having to read 3 pamphlets on 5th August because I took too long to read my day 2 choice. Will it ever be easy to squirrel away an hour or two of your day to read a pamphlet?

Shaky start aside, I am enjoying the challenge and the joys of taking part in it. Because of my quite random approach to selecting the day’s book, in my first week I’ve read a really diverse range of poets, writing about all kinds of subjects. Four of this week’s books have been anthologies, the most exciting of which being last year’s Too Young Too Loud Too Different, which celebrates 20 years of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. It was great to read so many poets I love and am familiar with, alongside some I hadn’t come across, collected in a book that celebrates their shared history and puts the spotlight on Black writers.

Also featuring in this week’s selection, and this will be a theme going forward, are pamphlets from poets and small presses local to where I live, up here on the North East coast. I acquire these mostly at local spoken word events, and this is a great way to find new voices. I particularly loved Rowan McCabe’s Hopeless Romantic, written during the pandemic and as part of McCabe’s residency at Wordsworth House, with the National Trust. Always one to think outside the box, in Hopeless Romantic he has produced a work of gentle humour and great insight into a defining moment in our lifetime, despite the challenges of trying to follow in Wordworth’s footsteps at a time when you either couldn’t go anywhere, or everywhere was always too busy (his poem on this theme, ‘Helvellyn Post Lockdown’, may be my favourite in the book), and adapting his Door To Door poetry project to a time when one simply couldn’t go round knocking on everyone’s door.

I’m still finding my footing with this challenge, but loving every moment. I can’t wait to see what the Big Stack has in store for the rest of the month!

You can order the titles I’ve mentioned through the links above, with 25% off for PBS members. Where titles are no longer available, I have included links to collected works where possible.

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