Selected Poems draws on Jenny Joseph's first four collections of poetry, The Unlooked-for Season (1960), Rose in the Afternoon (1974), The Thinking Heart (1978) and Beyond Descartes (1983). The poems explore the duality of existence, a track that runs through all her work, whether for children or adults, in poetry or prose. Jenny Joseph's Selected Poems includes 'Warning' (see video below), her much celebrated monologue in which a young woman talks of her fantasies of old age, voted Britain's favourite modern poem in a BBC poll in 2006.
‘Jenny Joseph writes poems full of mist and reason, poems strange in what they say but plain in the way they say it, poems rooted in an English tradition of passionate but quiet exactness…careful craftsmanship, an honest exploration of the human heart, and statement after statement that nags at the memory’ – Robert Nye, The Times
‘Her best poems…discover a world living in the clutches of disappointment and mortality, but open to the possibility of intense delight in minute but dazzling particulars of nature and in rare acts of human kindness’ – George Szirtes, Times Literary Supplement
‘She mixes mystery and plain statement in a wholly original way… Those who find modern poetry too thin to be nourishing should try Miss Joseph’s specially enriched dishes…Clear observation, bold aphorisms and sharp unhappiness are woven together in her poems. The end product feels like joy’ – Peter Porter, Observer
‘Dry wit and acute feeling for the comedy of things inform Jenny Joseph’s poetry’ – David Wright, Daily Telegraph
‘A precise attention to patterns of feeling and thought…what seriously applied intelligence and stringent moral reasoning can still achieve in poetry’ – Tim Dooley, Times Literary Supplement
Jenny Joseph reads 'Warning'
Jenny Joseph reads 'Warning', Britain's most popular post-war poem, according to a poll conducted by the BBC in 1996. Jenny Joseph reads 'Warning', Britain's most popular post-war poem, according to a poll conducted by the BBC in 1996. She first published 'Warning' in 1961 in The Listener – when she was 29 – and later included it in her second collection Rose in the Afternoon in 1974, and then in her Selected Poems from Bloodaxe in 1992. Pamela Robertson-Pearce filmed her reading the poem during Ledbury Poetry Festival in July 2008.
Jenny Joseph (1932-2018)
In July 2008 Jenny Joseph was filmed by Pamela Robertson-Pearce reading a set of poems she felt represented the range of her work: two extracts from ‘Fables’ (from Selected Poems, 1992), ‘Another Story of Hare and Tortoise’ (from Extreme of Things, 2006); ‘Patriotic poem against nationalism’ (from Ghosts and other company, 1995); and ’Such is the sea’ (from Extreme of Things, 2006). She scripted this informal reading, with introductions, for later inclusion in the Bloodaxe Books DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets. These are followed here by a separate reading from the same filming session (made before her reading at Ledbury Poetry Festival) of her best-known poem, ‘Warning’, a dramatic monologue in which a young woman talks of her fantasies of old age, voted Britain’s favourite modern poem in a BBC poll in 2006 (from Selected Poems, 1992).
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