There's a lot to be said for brilliantly designed and stunningly produced books, second fiddle though these things are - and certainly should be - to brilliant, stunning writing. When the two are combined, though, the book lover really can't ask for much more. And so it is with these recent Faber Firsts reissues: beautiful, highly affordable hardbacks of classic contemporary collections, including Armitage's Kid, Cope's Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, Paterson's Nil Nil and Larkin's The Whitsun Weddings.
They seem a continuation of the beautiful Faber 80th Anniversary Poetry Classics, selected poems of various poets which include similarly stunning designs and not only make the perfect gift for the newcomer to British and Irish poetry, but are tempting to those of us who already own other, doubtlessly less stylish, selecteds of Yeats, Plath, Hughes, Auden, Betjeman and Eliot.
Good news, then, for those of us who live in or around Sheffield, as the Blackwell Bookshop on Mappin St (just off West St) has the poetry section bursting with these, and all on offer at 3 for the price of 2, alongside a healthy selection of titles from the Poet to Poet series, also 3 for 2, all of which contain an illuminating introduction and selection from a great poet's work by a contemporary (I especially recommend Michael Hofmann's John Berryman, Maurice Riordan's Hart Crane, and August Kleinzahler's Thom Gunn). As Tony Williams puts it: "I covet the books even though I already own other editions".