Ruth Padel is an award-winning poet who has also become renowned as an energetic, generous and thought-provoking guide to reading poetry. Her 52 Ways of Looking at a Poem, with its lively overview of contemporary writing and eye-opening readings of individual poems, is indispensable for anyone who writes poetry, teaches it, or simply wants to enjoy it. In her new book, she uses sixty poems by some of our finest poets to look at the idea of the journey, through literature and through life. As Padel makes clear in her fascinating introduction, today s debates about how accessible a poem should be are poetry s older tradition. To rhyme or not to rhyme? The Elizabethans fought over that one, while the Greeks couldn t agree about whether poetry should be dumbed down or remain the preserve of the elite. Combining her training as a Classicist with her insights as a poet, Padel highlights the ways in which the best poets now find a balance between rhymed formal verse and modernism s freer styles, using a traditional, formal craft to convey genuinely felt, up-to-the-minute experience. In an increasingly unstable world, she argues, we need poetry more than ever to help us to see afresh and
Ruth Padel's six collections of poetry have been shortlisted for all the major poetry prizes. Her non-fiction, most recently Tigers in Red Weather, is also highly acclaimed. As Chair of the UK Poetry Society (2004-6) she presided over far-reaching changes to its constitution and artistic programming. She lives in London.