Pick Of The Year

Books

The Odyssey of Homer, trs Robert Fagles, Viking pounds 25. The ultimate story-teller given a modern spin in this new translation which captures the sweep and flow of the original. Fagles's colloquialisms inject new vigour, but occasionally it's more C&W than ancient Greek, more Iowa than Ithaca.

The School Bag eds Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes, Faber pounds 20/pounds 12.99. More solid and pedagogical than their earlier anthology, The Rattle Bag, this is a gallop through EngLit with detours into unfamiliar Irish, Welsh, Scots and medieval territory. The rule of one poem per poet occasionally makes for dull-but-worthy choices, but there's lots of fresh, unfamiliar stuff too. The notable failure is with women: surely Sylvia Plath is a significant omission.

Making for Planet Alice ed Maura Dooley, Bloodaxe pounds 8.95. The ideal corrective to Heaney and Hughes, this showcases 30 women poets who have published a first collection in the 1990s. And what a gang: Kate Clanchy, Sarah Maguire, Lavinia Greenlaw, Jackie Kay, Maggie Hannan, Alice Oswald, Ruth Padel, Sinead Morrissey and Katherine Pierpoint among them.

Kissing a Bone by Maura Dooley, Bloodaxe pounds 6.95. Dooley's own poems are alert, careful, and usually very short. She moves across registers from the political to the personal with ease, leaping from the Irish famine to the Berlin wall to her record collection and the contents of a handbag ("kleenex / several Polo mints (furry), a tampon, pesetas / a florin").

Salt Water by Andrew Motion, Faber pounds 7.99. A taut, enjoyable new collection, split into two halves: the first, poetical meditations on water, both fresh and salt; the second, a prose account of the sea voyage Motion took in an old sailboat, in the wake of John Keats.

Tales From Ovid by Ted Hughes, Faber pounds 14.99/pounds 7.99. Hughes's vigorous free translations of episodes from the Metamorphoses were the highlights of After Ovid, last year's anthology of modern responses to the Latin. Hughes has gone on to craft a book-full of these tours de-force. Hughes tears out bloodied gobbets from Ovid's intricate whole, and retells them to great effect.

A Painted Field by Robin Robertson, Picador pounds 12. "The Flaying of Marsyas", another Ovidian extemporisation, is the stand-out, a grisly account of the punishment meted out by Apollo to the satyr who tried to rival him. Startling in its gore and viscera, it's not typical of this observant, lucid, perhaps rather mild-mannered collection.

God's Gift to Women by Don Paterson, Faber pounds 6.99. There's wit and self- consciousness here, plus shovelsful of irony, as Paterson tackles the "difficult" second collection. A clever-clogs with soul, he likes Zen jokes, circumlocutions, obliquity, blank pages, enigmatic titles - and some not so enigmatic ("Buggery"). Dazzling.

Bargain With the Watchman by Eva Salzman, OUP pounds 6.99. "Masques", a 12-poem sequence, transposes the classical Muses into the modern world, where they meet in pubs, turn to crime or become hypochondriac. Elsewhere Salzman's cool, appraising eye and sharp tongue get to work on sex and men in an enjoyable second collection.

The Marble Fly by Jamie McKendrick, Oxford pounds 6.99. The title-poem sees the poet at Pompeii, admiring the detail of a wall relief showing a lizard "canopening" a cricket, "a mouse airlifted by an owl" and a fly. So hard, so still, perfectly preserved: "It can't have been long after / that much the same idea / occurred to Vesuvius". McKendrick has a fine eye for ironies, and for vivid images.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Radio 4's Today programme host Evan Davis has been announced as the new face of Newsnight

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams performing on the Main Stage at the Wireless Festival in Finsbury Park, north London

music
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Mathison returns to the field in the fourth season of Showtime's Homeland

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Crowds soak up the atmosphere at Latitude Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Meyne Wyatt and Caren Pistorus arrive for the AACTA Aawrds in Sydney, Australia

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Rick Astley's original music video for 'Never Gonna Give You Up' has been removed from YouTube

music
Arts and Entertainment
Quentin Blake's 'Artists on the beach'

Artists unveils new exhibition inspired by Hastings beach

art
Arts and Entertainment
MusicFans were left disappointed after technical issues
Arts and Entertainment
'Girl with a Pearl Earring' by Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
artWhat is it about the period that so enthrals novelists?
Arts and Entertainment
Into the woods: The Merry Wives of Windsor at Petersfield
theatreOpen-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Arts and Entertainment
James singer Tim Booth
latitude 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Lee says: 'I never, ever set out to offend, but it can be an accidental by-product'
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe judges were wowed by the actress' individual cooking style
Arts and Entertainment
Nicholas says that he still feels lucky to be able to do what he loves, but that there is much about being in a band he hates
musicThere is much about being in a band that he hates, but his debut album is suffused with regret
Arts and Entertainment
The singer, who herself is openly bisexual, praised the 19-year-old sportsman before launching into a tirade about the upcoming Winter Olympics

books
Arts and Entertainment
music
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Cryer and Ashton Kutcher in the eleventh season of Two and a Half Men

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

    Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

    A land of the outright bizarre
    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

    ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
    Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

    The worst kept secret in cinema

    A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
    Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    The new hatched, matched and dispatched

    Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
    Why do we have blood types?

    Are you my type?

    All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
    Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

    Honesty box hotels

    Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

    Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

    The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn