“Birthday Letters”

Confession time: I didn’t managed to finish this one. And actually, I didn’t like it that much. Is that sacrilege?

My reasons for finding it ‘hard’?

  1. Most of the poems felt too personal, as if I was some kind of Peeping Tom looking in on lives and a relationship when I had no right to be there. Very uncomfortable. And most often I found myself not wanting to be there...
  2. Although some of the pieces are good – and some phrases exceptional – all too often they feel like unfinished jottings; as if Hughes had sat down, made a rough list, and thought ‘that will do’. Not lazy exactly, but also lacking evidence in some cases of  any craft. At least that’s how it seemed to me.

I know the book has won awards, so who am I to judge – but as a reader, you do. You can’t help it. This one will go to the poetry shelf (alongside other Hughes, it has to be said) and probably remain there untouched forever more.