This month, award-winning poet Christopher Reid has chosen Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, by Lewis Carroll. He says of the books:
I first read the Alice books when I was about seven or eight. They offered a complete world – prose, poetry, illustrations – that was at the same time utterly nonsensical and a recognisable picture of where I myself lived. Some pages made me laugh, while others scared me, and I returned to both again and again, in the way that you do to something you don’t fully understand but that you know is urgently significant. It speaks to me in my sixties with equal force. Alice’s bravery is the key, as she keeps her head in her abrasive encounters with the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Duchess, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, and numerous other frightening and foolish types. So the two books can be read, if you like, as a manual on how to stay sane in a world that may be cruel and crazy but can still be survived. Don’t we all need that?
Christopher Reid’s latest collection of poetry, The Curiosities, was published by Faber in May. In January 2010 he won the 2009 Costa Book Award for A Scattering, the first time a poet had won the overall Costa Award since Seamus Heaney in 1999.