A book I love: Rembrandt Would Have Loved You by Ruth Padel

Whatever you think of Ruth Padel (and there is a lot to be thought following the Oxford professor of poetry furore), she know how to hold her own. From the blustery masculinity of a lot of late twentieth century poetry she stands aside. Her poetry is bold without any of the defensive brashness that seems to define a lot of modern poetry. The poems in this book appear to be simple snatches of narrative but, on closer inspection, they tingle with strange imagery and unusual perspectives on well-worn tropes.

The book itself is a collection of love poems that chart a relationship from a fizzy, needy beginning to its frustrated close.There is a sadness that runs through all of the poems, a sense that all romantic protagonists will turn out to be inadequate and perhaps this is the appeal of the book. It is a frank, beautiful portrayal of romantic cynicism in an age that worships the Happy Ending of marriage and children.

If you’re looking for something to smooth away the creases I strongly recommend that you listen to Ruth reading her own work over at the Poetry Archive.


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