Titles Read: p. a. morbid The Impossibility of Home (Black Light Engine Room), Alycia Pirmohamed Another Way To Split Water (Polygon), Harry Gallagher and p. a. morbid Running Parallel (Black Light Engine Room), Bryony Littlefair Giraffe (Seren), Moniza Alvi Europa (Bloodaxe), Flo Reynolds The Other Body (Guillemot), Helen Mort No Map Could Show Them (Chatto), Warsan Shire Bless The Daughter Raised By The Voice In Her Head (Chatto), Olivia Gatwood Life of the Party (Doubleday), The Poetry Virgins Sauce (Diamond Twig/Bloodaxe), Rebecca Tamas Witch (Penned in the Margins)
So, I didn’t quite make it. I had a canny innings at 26 books, but life – the nice bits! – got in the way. At five books short I can confidently say that had I not gone away with my family for a wedding for five days, I would have completed the Sealey Challenge. Alas, there were beaches to walk, love to celebrate, and dancing to do.
Even putting holidays aside, it has not been without its hurdles. Halfway through the third week I was struck by huge fatigue, and a desire to spend more time with the poems that I was, by necessity, rifling through. I will be going back to a few of this month’s titles just to give them the time that they deserve; namely, Alycia Pirmohamed’s Another Way To Split Water and Flo Reynolds’ The Other Body.
Rereading some old favourites made things a little easier and was also a lovely thing to do in itself. The imminent release of Bryony Littlefair’s Escape Room reminded me how much I enjoyed her pamphlet Giraffe. The poems in this pamphlet are warm, honest, at times playful, and it was a joy to go back to them. I also revisited Olivia Gatwood’s Life of the Party, in which Gatwood writes about true crime, and analyses her relationship with the genre. I ached and raged while reading these poems, which are ever more poignant as women continue to experience terrible violence.
Also making it difficult to get to 31 books was that I kept putting them down to start writing my own poems! This is both a virtue and a stumbling block of the Challenge: what started as stirrings while reading Frances Horovitz a couple of weeks ago, is now a fully awake creative animal that keeps dragging me away from what I’m doing. I can’t say I’m sorry for it!
I can absolutely recommend giving the Sealey Challenge a go next year, if you haven’t tried it. It’s great to stuff oneself full of all these different kinds of poetry – discovering new favourites and revisiting old ones – even if you don’t make it to the whole 31!
As always, the books I have discussed are available at the links above, with 25% off for PBS members.