Books for Christmas Part 9: To Heal, Inspire, Calm and help you Think - our poetry picks for Christmas

Poetry is one of those areas in which - we believe - independent bookshops excel. Everyone should read poetry, many people are intimidated by it, but there are all kinds of people out there who can provide a reliable guide to help you discover the power of poetry to heal the soul, inspire the spirit, calm the troubled mind and create a space in which you can think. Here are a few of our favourite companions to make the journey with.

Creating space to think is increasingly difficult in the modern world - but seeking out a good independent bookshop is a great first step...

Dorothy Wordsworth's Christmas Birthday - Carol Ann Duffy - £6.99
The Poet Laureate offers us another delightful and original Christmas poem, following Bethlehem, Wenceslas, The Christmas Truce and Another Night Before Christmas and Mrs Scrooge. Fully illustrated, this covetable little hardback will be a perfect stocking-filler - copies on display on the counter in the shop - come in and have a look!

100 Poems to See You Through - Daisy Goodwin - £10.00
When times are tough - whether because of illness, bereavement or receiving bad news - it can be hard to find the right words. Help comes in the form of this beautifully packaged gift book, comprising 100 life-affirming poems handpicked by an expert on poetry. Grouping the poems by theme - from 'Hearing Bad News' to 'How To Carry On' - this gem of a book features contributions from classical poets such as John Keats, Emily Bronte, W.H. Auden and Christina Rossetti alongside lines from more contemporary poets such as Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Jennings, Raymond Carver, Carol Ann Duffy and Wendy Cope. The combination is a wonderfully uplifting book - a self-administered pick-me-up guaranteed to make a dark day brighter and act as a great lyrical crutch.

Six Poets: Hardy to Larkin: An Anthology - Alan Bennett - £14.99
Poets like to elude their public, lead them a bit of a dance. They take them down untrodden paths, land them in unknown country where they have to ask for directions. Alan Bennett's selection of English verse by his favourite poets is accompanied by his own enlivening commentary. In this personal anthology, Alan Bennett has chosen more than seventy poems by six well-loved poets, discussing the writers and their verse in his customary conversational style through anecdote, shrewd appraisal and spare but telling biographical detail.

(and you can also listed to Alan Bennett speaking - with extremely personal candour - about his own reactions to the work on this accompanying Audio CD for £10.99)

Paper Aeroplane : Selected Poems 1989-2014 - Simon Armitage - £14.99
Simon Armitage has a reputation as one of the nation's most original, most respected and best-loved contemporary poets. In 'Paper Aeroplane' he selects his own favourite poems from across a quarter-century of work, from his debut to the latest, uncollected work. The selection includes favourites such as Kid, Book of Matches, The Universal Home Doctor and Seeing Stars.

The Christmas Wren - Gillian Clarke - £4.95
Since it was founded in 2008, Candlestick Press has gone from strength to strength on the back of something simple yet utterly unique - collections of poems to send by post in place of a card. We have quite a collection at Mostly Books - whether poems about tea, bicycles, gardens, teachers - and this year, to mark the centenary of Dylan Thomas’s birth, Candlestick Press were commissioned by The Dylan Thomas Centre to publish Gillian Clarke’s story The Christmas Wren, written in response to Dylan Thomas’s A Child’s Christmas in Wales. It's a story for adults and children, a magical tale of the Christmases of a Welsh childhood populated by aunts and uncles, snow and starlight, boxes and baubles. Gillian Clarke was appointed National Poet for Wales in 2008.

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