Top Reads 2021 | Poetry | Granta

Top Reads 2021 | Poetry

To mark another year of the ‘new normal’, here are ten of our most popular poems from 2021, from elegies to abusive moons and hidden histories.


Up Late | Nick Laird

‘I want the poem to destroy time.
What are the ceremonies of forgetting?

Nick Laird’s elegy for his father.


Surge | Jay Bernard

‘Going in when the firefighters left
was like standing on a black beach
with the sea suspended in the walls,
soot suds like a conglomerate of flies.’

Two poems by Jay Bernard, from their debut collection Surge.


Two poems | Sam Sax

‘grief is an animal. we all know that. but which animal
exactly? what kingdom, what family, is it ever a fish?

does its voice change as it leaves the body or is there
a bestiary somewhere in the chest?



Naming | Jason Allen-Paisant


‘To name things would be

perhaps the place within
will always escape the name

In the mind one leaves leaves &
but on stone earth and grass one stays forever.’

Jason Allen-Paisant’s ecological thinking.


Two poems | Tayi Tibble


‘Cracking like two eggs
in a single bed
playing all
of Born to Die
off a fat desktop computer
with no internet.’

Tayi Tibble’s girlhood.


Two poems | Holly Pester


‘on the altered face of an abusive moon
pain feels like the fault of them in pain
local and inevitable
frilled collateral shapes with anguish.’

Two poems from Holly Pester’s Forward prize shortlisted debut collection Comic Timing.


from Affiliation| Mira Mattar


r‘rooftops puncture
the expanding lung
of this Better life –
pesto, chicken Kievs, Channel 5
Paula Danziger, Stephen King, Judy Blume
cotton bud, soap scum, shower cap

Mira Mattar’s cinematic long poem.  


Three poems | Verity Spott


‘I’m better now, & time spreads away
across the flood. If you hate flying ant day,
we hate you. I was having flying ant day-
dreams in the flying ant day-

Verity Spott on the best day of the year.


In Medias Res | Jesse Darling


‘In the middle of this the course of our life, I stopped
& everybody got out of their car.
The crickets roared. Wind farm sliced up blue in chorus,
like syncopated swimmers, all muscle blade & grace..’

Jesse Darling’s In Medias Res.


Four poems | Geoffrey Nutter


‘On our visit we stayed at the octagon house –
and were sleepless in view of the eight-sided land.
Uncombed grass webbed the sides of the angled veranda.
And on one side of the eight-sided land
the incandescent lanterns of the doll shops flickered on.’

Geoffrey Nutter’s octagon house.


Feature photograph © Carl Berger Sr