The Best Poetry Anthologies Every Poetry Fan Should Own

Five of the best collections of English poetry, selected by Dr Oliver Tearle

What are the best English poetry anthologies? And how would one define ‘best’? The answer, of course, is that it’s always going to be subjective to a point. But it’s worth having a go at picking the greatest anthologies from which the poetry fan can choose. The poetry anthology is a great way not only of revisiting old favourites, but of discovering new poets. In this post, we’ve turned our attention to a kind of book that provides a highly valuable service for the poetry-lover. Many of these books can be purchased for the equivalent of the cost of lunch (depending on where you lunch, of course), or, at most, set back the book-buyer no more than a night out in the local pub would. And a volume of poetry can provide a lifetime of pleasure!

The Oxford Book of English Verse. Edited by Sir Christopher Ricks, this anthology is, in our opinion, simply the best one out there. It’s beautifully produced on good-quality paper, presented in clear type, and the selections made by Ricks showcase, not necessarily the most famous poems by a particular poet, but the most moving, thought-provoking, and intriguing. Thus The Oxford Book of English Verse does what a good poetry anthology should do:

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Five Fascinating Facts about Jonathan Swift

The life of Jonathan Swift told through five pieces of interesting trivia

1. Jonathan Swift invented the girls’ name Vanessa. The name Vanessa originated as Swift’s pet name for his friend and lover Esther Vanhomrigh (c. 1688-1723), who was over 20 years his junior. Swift wrote a poem, Cadenus and Vanessa (1713), about Esther/Vanessa.

2. He was a cousin of John Dryden. Dryden reportedly remarked to his distant cousin, ‘Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet.’ Sure enough, it would be in prose – with such works as ‘A Modest Proposal’, A Tale of a Tub, and Gulliver’s Travels – that Swift would create his enduring legacy.

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10 Weird and Wonderful Words about Literature and Reading

Interesting words related to literature and reading

We love to collect interesting words, especially those related to literature, reading, and other such things. Indeed, since the stuff of literature is words, we love to delve into the wonderful world of the lexical. Here are ten of the best literary words we’ve encountered recently, with a definition for each. If you enjoy these words, you’ll probably enjoy our 10 words for book-lovers and our 10 words for writers.

A panchreston is a broad thesis that purports to cover all aspects of its subject but usually ends up as a gross oversimplification.

Papyrocracy is government by paper, especially newspapers and literature.

Rhapsodomancy is divining the future by picking a passage of poetry at random.

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10 Great Christopher Hitchens Quotes on Literature and Writing

The finest sourced quotes from Christopher Hitchens

Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011) was one of the most popular – and divisive – writers of his day. Born in England, he moved to the United States in his early thirties, and lived in Washington D. C. for the rest of his life. He is often celebrated for his witty one-liners and bon mots, so here we’ve gathered together ten of his best quotations about literature, being a writer, and related subjects.

If you’re a self-employed writer, there’s a tendency always to feel guilty any time you’re not working. – ‘In Depth with Christopher Hitchens’, C-SPAN, 2007

I became a journalist partly so that I wouldn’t ever have to rely on the press for my information. – Hitch-22: A Memoir

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10 Great Words about Words

The best words to describe language-related experiences, reading, and other related phenomena

Logos is the very first word of the Gospel of St John: ‘In the beginning was the Word’. (Logos means ‘word’.) And ‘logos’, it turns out, has given us a raft of great wordy words – word-related terms which describe our infatuation, and frustration, with language. Nomen, the Latin for ‘name’, has also given us some great terms, so we’ve included one of those here as well, in this post outlining the best words about language or related phenomena: reading, names, and the like. We hope you enjoy them.

Alogotransiphobia denotes the fear of being caught on public transport with nothing to read. The word hasn’t found its way into dictionaries yet. It was coined by a novelist in 1992, according to Paul Dickson in his informative book of word-trivia, Authorisms: Words Wrought by Writers.

A logodaedalus is someone who is cunning with words; it was first used by poet and playwright Ben Jonson in 1611.

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