Tuesday, 9 March 2010

It's hard to be hip over thirty (and other tales of married life)

Another success for Persephone books in getting me to enjoy a genre that I wouldn't otherwise choose to read - this time, poetry.

It's hard to be hip over thirty, by Judith Viorst is an entertaining collection of poems devoted to the trials and tribulations of trying to be a grown up, inspired particularly by her experiences of marriage and motherhood.

Here is an extract from my favourite poem in the book Maybe we'll make it which really encapsulates the difficulties of living with someone. I so identified with this and its other three verses....

If I quit hoping he'll show up with flowers, and
He quits hoping I'll squeeze him an orange, and
I quit shaving my legs with his razor, and
He quits wiping his feet with my face towel, and
We avoid discussions like
Is he really smarter than I am, or simply more glib,
Maybe we'll make it

Viorst uses another poem to make the point that it is worth it. Here are some lines from Married is better:

Married is better
Than sitting on a blanket in Nantucket
Where you get blotches and a red nose instead of adorable freckles and golden brown,
Hoping that someone with whom you would not be caught dead
From September to June
Will invite you to dinner
And it is better
Than riding a double chair life up at Stowe
On your way to an expert trail and you're a beginner
Hoping the fellow for whom you are risking your life
Will invite you for dinner
And one night, when you land at Kennedy, and no one is there to meet you except your partents
And you suddenly realise you never saw the Parthenon because you were too busy looking around for a Greek god,
You suddenly realize
Married is better...

...And married is better
Than the subway plus a crosstown bus every morning,
And tuna on toasted cheese bread, no lettuce, at Schrafft's.
And a bachelor-girl apartment with burlap and foam rubber and a few droll touches like a Samurai sword in the bathroom,
And going to the movies alone.

I couldn't agree with all of these lines more; it was a message that I liked , heading towards thirty and married life myself. It's difficult learning to live with someone - I'll spare you from a catalogue of the things that my fiance does which annoy me, and the things that I do which I think must annoy him - but it's worth it.

I think the only other Persephone of poetry is Arthur Clough's Armours de voyage which I didn't get into, but having enjoyed this volume I should probably give it a go.

The funky endpaper by the way is a 1960s Liberty fabric called bangles. Unfortunately as my copy was second hand, it lacked the bookmark, so I must pick one up in the shop to match! I love to have the coloured endpapers poking out of the grey volumes.


  1. I remember Simon T reviewing this (during Persephone Reading Week, I think) and it really appealing. Thank you for quoting the examples you did (I won't mention copyright *cough*) as now I am really tempted to read this at some point. I don't read poetry any more but when I do is is mainly modern poets as opposed to Romantic, Victorian, or older.

    G and I had a seamless experience moving in together and it's been a perfect experience but I do love the "Married is Better" poem and think that it probably will be.

  2. P.S. Just joking about the copyright as you're only quoting sections. I once quoted a full (albeit short) poem but it was on the internet anyway.

  3. I prefer living in sin myself :)

  4. Watching Bright Star has inspired an interest in poetry which has taken me completely by surprise! It's just a matter of finding the right vehicle I suppose. I don't have a mad desire to order a copy of any poetry or prose from Persephone just yet but I'm thinking perhaps down the road...who knows.

    I would think that your fabulous baking would clearly cancel out any annoying habit K thinks you may have.

  5. interesting Verity - thanks for sharing.

    I noticed this in the Persephone catalogue and thought that it was an interesting choice for them.... The only Juidth Viorst that I have ever read is that wonderful poem - "Where is it written" which was in our GCSE collection - otherwise she has never crossed my path, but I am open minded and might enjoy taking a look at this.

    thanks indeed!


  6. Claire - I am a librarian so am hugely aware of copyright, hence only quoting sections :p It is a good book. I think Viorst was saying that any kind of long term relationship is better than being single.

    Redwitch - yes, but it's still better than being single!!

    Darlene - I'm still desperately awaiting the library getting a copy of Bright Star - should be any day now.

    Hannah - lots of the P books are "interesting choices"; I'm so glad that was included in the list or I wouldn't have read it.

  7. I'm afraid I must call Claire wrong, because I haven't reviewed this on my blog... because I hated it! I won't go into all the reasons why, but it's safe to say that there wasn't anything that I *did* like. Easily my least favourite Persephone... but I'm glad you liked it!

    The one Claire might be thinking about is Lettice Delmer, a novel in verse, also published by Persephone, which is very interesting. They also publish poetry by Virginia Graham (Consider The Years) but I haven't read it.

  8. Apolgies, Simon. I stand corrected: it was indeed Lettice Delmer during Persephone Reading Week.


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