The Ropes is an anthology for young people of mainly specially commissioned poems from a variety of poets, refreshingly not all ‘the usual suspects’. The poets include Julia Darling, Moniza Alvi, Gwyneth Lewis, Kwami Dawes, Daljit Nagra and Jacob Polley – all good writers with their own voice. There is also a sprinkling of more traditional poets such as Edna St Vincent Millay and Louis MacNeice.
The book is divided into poems by women, and when you turn around the book, poems by men; with interesting and thought-provoking introductions by Sophie Hannah and John Hegley.
There is a photo of each poet at a younger age at the bottom of the facing page to the poem with some personal observations, for example Paul Batchelor comments ‘I appear to have found something to smile about; that should make the photo easier to date.’ The page also has a heading: reflect/respond, where the reader is invited to respond with their own thoughts or to write their own poem on that page. Each poet writes about life when they were a teenager.
I loved this anthology. The poems are very very good, they speak directly to the reader on a variety of topics ranging from being in a children’s home and a first vote to boy soldiers and starlings: ‘mucky as a dustbin wagon’s mascot’.
The book is friendly to handle and imaginatively designed. It’s an anthology for everyone, young people and adults, one of the best I’ve come across for quite some time.