‘Get rid of death. Celebrate increase. Make it be spring.’
– ‘February’ by Margaret Atwood.
I’ve just finished Margaret Atwood’s poetry collection, Eating Fire. It’s a selection of thirty years of her poetry from 1965 – 1995. Poetry collections are not the first books I reach for. I enjoy some spoken word poetry enormously, and have read some amazing poems recently that have just been echoing around my mind. But I struggle with some written poetry. I feel like I’m learning, though. There are some amazing poems in Eating Fire and I can see myself re-reading this over and over again.
‘February’ struck a big chord with me in particular because it’s actually February now (wow, right?!) and this month is the absolute worst. It’s bleak and your body is craving spring and light and warmth (and chocolate eggs) and it’s not getting them. Though I’m not experiencing the dreaded Winter Blues as much as usual this year, I am craving spring. Loved ones are over winter, we all just want it to be over now. The signs are there: daffodils and bluebells and snowdrops are around. It’s getting lighter again in the evenings. It’s coming, but it’s coming too slowly!
‘Winter. Time to eat fat / and watch hockey / […] February, month of despair, / with a skewered heart in the centre. / I think dire thoughts, and lust for French fries / with a splash of vinegar.’
The forced romanticism of Valentine’s Day can make the bleak February feel worse. Even if you do have a partner, if you don’t feel romantic on that day then you can feel like a failure. And if you’re single, it’s probably best to hibernate until the disgusting pink chocolate hearts disappear. The one upside of February, though, and a day I always enjoy more than Valentine’s, is Pancake Day. We need more Pancake Days in February.
Or, better than that, make it be spring.
I find that I can get the ideas and images of one poem in my head at a time, which is a very different experience to how I read fiction. I get astounded with poems which get stuck in my head – how has the author managed to get across these ideas in that small amount of words? And it’s often simple ideas, such as how the seasons can affect how you feel, which can most stand out to a reader.