'Don't Ask Me What I Mean' is the apposite title of a 350 pp Picador paperback compiled by Clare Brown and Don Paterson. The top rank poets contributing essays range through the full spectrum of British Poetry over the last 50 or 60 years; and include such names as Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin, T S Eliot, and Sylvia Plath, just to make a random fist.
The book begins encouragingly with the first sentence: Poets are mad.
From that point on it swerves hither and thither through the bardic thoughts of more than 100 madmen and several mad persons of the fairer sex. An average of 3 pages per literary lunatic.
It's a great book to take to the pub to puruse in safety of the sepia painted corner with your glowing pint of real ale or your fizzing gin and tonic.
The Finacial Times's backcover blurb sums it up quite well if in a rather dull tone: ...some of the best and most engagingly human prose about the agonies and travails of writing poems...
Rush out and buy it with your Christmas book token! says P-i-R with aplomb and gusto.