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Jacana Media wants to feed your soul this Valentine's Day

Jacana is giving away a love poetry package consisting of one copy of In the Country of the Heart and one copy of Chaos Theory of the Heart.
To win these highly recommended collections write and send your own love poem to:

Poetry, the food of love

Mysterious, serious, playful, erotic, classical and contemporary poetry for Valentine's Day (and every other day of the year)

Michelle McGrane

"At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet," wrote Plato.

Unfortunately, not everyone becomes a reader. Buy a poetry book for someone you love. Buy yourself a book of poetry. It doesn't have to be love poetry, just poetry. It's a lasting gift that can be revisited - unlike roses, which wither and fade in the course of days.

Support South African poetry, and perhaps in years to come there will be more local anthologies of love poetry on our bookshelves. That having been said, In the Country of the Heart (Jacana, 2001), an anthology of love poems by South African poets, comes highly recommended, as does Chaos Theory of the Heart (Jacana, 2005), a diverse collection of poems by Lionel Abrahams, one of South Africa's greatest literary voices.

American poet Stanley Kunitz said,

Every new poem is like finding a new bride. Words are so erotic, they never tire of their coupling.
Tess Gallagher (author of Portable Kisses) says,
The best love poems confirm something we secretly felt but never said.
Celebrate love, passion, and desire in all its shapes, sizes and colours by feasting your senses on this selection of evocative, provocative reads.

Click to buy
Click on cover to buy

In the Country of the Heart
edited by PR Anderson

An anthology of South African poetry for South African readers, including a skilful introduction by PR Anderson, author of Litany Bird and winner of the 2003 Sanlam Literary Award. In the Country of the Heart contains poetry by some of South Africa's best-loved poets: Mxolisi Nyezwa, Lesego Rampolokeng, Douglas Livingstone, Kelwyn Sole, Tatamakhulu Africa, Fiona Zerbst and many more. The poems are divided roughly into three sections: Before, During, and After love. Read Seitlhamo Motsapi's "Mantsi", Robert Berold's "The Letter", Njabulo Ndebele's "Portrait of Love" and "Zafaran" by Rustum Kozain.

Click to buy!
Click on cover to buy

Chaos Theory of the Heart
by Lionel Abrahams

Poet, wit, lover, critic and mentor, Lionel Abrahams inspired and was loved by many South African readers and writers. On receiving the Olive Schreiner Prize for Poetry in 1986 Abrahams said:
The extreme moments of history often defeat poetry. But if poetry endures … it has to go where journalism and historiography do not have to go … into the core of the individual experience, where the politics, the economics, the conflict and disruption are not just thought but undergone and felt …
Chaos Theory of the Heart is divided into four sections: "Celebrations, Considerations, Portraits"; "Squarish Quatrains"; "Protests, Satires, Caprices" and "Last Poems" (poems completed in the last months of his life).

Click on cover to buy

Passionfood: 100 love poems
edited by Neil Astley

Passionfood is a feast of classic and contemporary love poems. There are a hundred flavours in this four-course celebration of true love: love that grows into love that lasts, love that fills every part of our lives, love that never leaves us. It's a perfect gift for the person you love, for weddings and engagements, birthdays and anniversaries. Includes Kim Addonizio, Yehuda Amichai, WH Auden, Anne Bradstreet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Browning, Lord Byron, Catullus, Emily Dickinson, John Donne, Carol Anne Duffy, UA Fanthorpe, James Fenton, Nikki Giovanni, Selima Hill, Jackie Kay, DH Lawrence, Pablo Neruda, Michael Ondaatje, Alice Oswald, Marge Piercy, Christina Rossetti, Sappho, Anne Sexton, William Shakespeare, WB Yeats, and many others.

Click on cover to buy

The Honey Gatherers: A Book of Love Poems
edited by Maura Dooley

The Honey Gatherers takes its title from lines in Michael Ondaatje's poem "The Cinnamon Peeler": "I buried my hands/ in saffron, disguised them/ over smoking tar,/ helped the honey gatherers …" Here are poems about romantic love, the hurt of love, lost or unrequited, as well as poems of friendship, surprise, celebration and consolation. Incorporates poems by Rilke, Miroslav Holub, Xu Zhi Mo, Pablo Neruda, AE Housman, Wendy Cope and other fine poets.

Click on cover to buy

Pleased to See Me: 69 very sexy poems
a cheeky number whipped up by Neil Astley

"Is that a gun in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?" (Mae West)

Pleased to See Me is an anthology of deft, sexy poems edited by the United Kingdom's leading anthologist. Neil Astley is the editor of Bloodaxe Books, which he founded in 1978. He is also the editor of the best-selling anthologies Staying Alive: real poems for unreal times and Being Alive: The sequel to Staying Alive. Pleased to See Me is prefaced with lines by Pablo Neruda: "I want/ to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees." In his foreward, Astley writes: "These poems are very sexy poems not just because they are about sex, but because their luscious language is handled with wit and sureness of touch … Sex in modern poetry - as in films, novels and music - is treated freely and frankly, with passion, tenderness and a great sense of fun. Expect surprises and reversals as well as creepiness and unease, coupled with in-your-face exuberance. We're talking strong language and strong emotions here." Poems by Sharon Olds, Grace Nichols, Jo Shapcott, ee cummings, Seamus Heaney, Robert Frost, Billy Collins, Sujata Bhatt, Roddy Lumsden, Marilyn Hacker, Galway Kinnell and Don Paterson, to name a few.

Click on cover to buy

Love Life
by Micheal O'Siadhail

Thoughtful and accomplished, Michael O'Siadhail is one of Ireland's leading poets. In four sequences entitled "Crimson Thread", "Covenants", "Seasoning" and "Full and By", this poet tells of a life in love moving through the passionate erotic, the dramas of wooing, promising and quarrelling, and the day-by-dayness of home. Love Life has a recurring theme: a lifetime's amazement at the mystery of one woman. O'Siadhail is a freelance writer and was formerly a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin and a professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. He is a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review. Michael O'Siadhail's website is www.osiadhail.com.

Click on cover to buy
The Book of Orgasms
by Nin Andrews

Witty, entertaining and sexy prose poems by American poet Nin Andrews. The first line in this book, an underground cult classic in the United States, reads: "Perhaps you don't want to admit you've never had an orgasm." Includes an interview with an orgasm and an introduction which defines the orgasm as various kinds of poems. Andrews is also the author of Spontaneous Breasts and Why They Grow Wings.

Virgin & the Nightingale: Mediaeval Latin Poems
by Fleur Adcock

Medieval Latin poems with Adcock's translations. Born in Auckland, New Zealand, Fleur Adcock is a consummate poet. Her collected work, Poems 1960-2000, received a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.

Click on cover to buy
I Won't Let You Go: Selected Poems
by Rabindranath Tagore
translated by Ketaki Kushari Dyson

Indian writer Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913 for this collection of work. I Won't Let You Go is a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation.

Click on cover to buy
Portable Kisses: Love Poems
by Tess Gallagher

Playful, serious and sassy poems about kisses. The author says, "Ideally, a reader should finish this book, then find someone to kiss."

Click on cover to buy
A Red Cherry on a White-tiled floor: Selected Poems
by Maram al-Massri
translated by Khaled Mattawa

Syrian poet Maram al-Massri is an Arab love poet for the modern age. Michael Binyon of The Times writes: "It is the combination of her modern, feminine individuality and the older Arab tradition that is so striking and wrenching."

LitNet: 14 February 2006

Did you enjoy this article? Have your say! Send your comments to webvoet@litnet.co.za, and become a part of our interactive opinion page. Or submit your own poetry to Michelle McGrane for consideration.

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