Poetry – an alternative to greetings cards

I was given these poetry booklets free of charge via my poetry class on the understanding that I would offer an honest review of them. As I was going to do this anyway, I thought why not include it in my blog. Multi-tasking!

The booklets are made by Candlestick Press UK (who have a great logo) and they are marketed as an alternative to greeting cards. We need an alternative to greetings cards-don’t we? They are all a thing of beauty, the cover (with a proper texture and I think non-bleached) and pages are made from sustainable material and each one donates (doesn’t say how much) to a relevant charity – in short, they have a conscience. How lovely to be able to send a card that someone might spend more time with than the usual glance and hopefully they will want to keep. Each also comes with an envelope and a classy bookmark which is a nice touch after all, these are ideal gifts for readers.

The Wood in Winter has my favourite cover art, it feels like you could stand this on your mantle-piece next to your other cards. Inside it begins and ends with a poem, in the middle is an atmospheric short story that takes you right into the heart of a wood in winter along with some more of the fabulous art work. My favourite line ‘the oaks were temple pillars of a lost civilisation; they had no more botany than stone.’ Donation to woodland trust. Need I say more?

The art work on Twelve Poems of Christmas is lovely but it looks less like a greetings card and the colour maybe not so Christmasy but they are on volume eight, so maybe that explains the choice. The introduction by Carol Ann Duffy, specific to 2016, is a lovely touch, who wouldn’t want to share Christmas with Carol? There is a balanced selection of poems, old and new, on all aspects of the season including a dose of commercial cynicism. The central poem is the Twelve Days of Christmas which we all know so well. Reading it, I thought it was going to morph into an alternative version with each coming verse and when it didn’t I was, well, disappointed and skipped to the end of the poem, the rest were a joy. My favourite lines, from How I’ll Decorate My Tree,  ‘A space-hopper, an everlasting gobstopper…now my smile is straight-gonna hang up my braces!’ Donation to UNICEF.

Ten poems about Friendship is a roller-coaster of poignant, funny and sad in a very good way and examines what friendship is to different people or at different stages in life. Again the artwork is great although I worry about the solo person drinking alone on the front cover. My favourite lines from Inventory (a poem about facebook) ‘On my birthday 62 of my 484 friends wished me a happy birthday. This was a reduction of 16 on last year.’ Donation to Friends of the Elderly.

The only criticism I have with the format is that I would like somewhere to write my personalised message / greeting to the recipient. On the first page there is an ‘ex libris’ panel which is fine if buying this booklet for yourself and lending it out. I would prefer if this could altered (keeping the lovely artwork) to provide a blank space or a To/From format so the sender can wax a little lyrical themselves.

I have loved reading these poems and think these booklets make a thoughtful alternative to cards. I confess I bought one of these a couple of years ago and sent it airmail to a friend in Australia (not the best idea but she was worth it and loved it). It was still on display when I visited a year later. Thank you to Candlestick Press for supporting our poetry group at Trowbridge Town Hall.

I am now going to, very carefully, return these booklets into their plastic pouches and re-seal them. I have someone in mind for each of them. Is that wrong?



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