Two gifts: a ‘collection of books’ and a poem

If you are on Twitter, you might know that Emma Claire posted a photo last week, saying that she had just started her response to this month’s Something Rhymed activity.

Emma's February activity

Like you, I could see pens, notebooks, coloured paper, a cup of tea. And I had absolutely no idea what she had planned.

So I was delighted to receive a stack of ‘books’ this week, each of them decorated with my name and a make-believe title. Amongst these were One Honest Friend, Speaking Up and my personal favourite The Lost Art of Getting Lost.  Each book had a related back-cover blurb too, summing up something my friend admired about me.


Although I can’t help feeling that Emma Claire has been over-generous in her praise, I was really touched by what she said and the highly original way she found to say it.

This was the first time I’d received anything like this from her, and that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and try my hand at something I rarely attempt.


I had already made a list of her many qualities at this stage. These included:

  • Her superior levels of insight as a writer and a reader
  • Her sensitivity towards other people – she’s amazingly good at predicting when someone may be feeling down and thinking of practical ways that she can help.
  • That she is more of a doer than a dreamer – I have never known anyone quite like Emma Claire for taking an idea and running with it.
  • The fact she’s very good at pulling a meal together, never ever getting flustered in the kitchen meals at Emma Claires are always served with warmth.

I wanted to do something text-based in response, and, although in no way do I consider myself a poet, I thought poetry might be a good form for what I wanted to say.

I’d also been thinking about the letters we wrote to each other as part of January’s activity, and how we’d both said there had been times when we’d regretted not meeting earlier in our lives. This element crept into the piece below too, which ended up suggesting something of the spirit of my list rather than being constructed of the original words I scribbled down.

You can read the poem by clicking on the title below:

Things we didn’t do

As always

We are very keen to hear your responses to this month’s challenge. And do keep those recommendations of female literary pairings coming in too. You can get in touch by using the ‘leave a reply’ button below. We really look forward to hearing from you.

6 thoughts on “Two gifts: a ‘collection of books’ and a poem

  1. Stunning Emily.

    Memories like these are equally bittersweet whether real or imagined, whether done or not done.

    Writing – in the sense of penning a letter to an old and dear friend – is something that I’ve always approached intuitively rather than intellectually: like eating spaghetti. It’s been fascinating to look at it, illuminated in this way.

    Please keep up the excellent work x

  2. Thanks so much for getting in touch, Matt. x

    I very much like the spaghetti comparison, and it’s good to know that there are still people today who are keeping the art of letter writing going.

  3. My friend Tessa (who I once dressed up as a cloud with) is travelling in New Zealand and we only have occasional contact with each other via text. I texted her a response to your challenge, taking inspiration from Sarah Butler and Tessa Nicholson’s ‘Ten Things’ too. I have no idea if it is floating round the ether or if she has received it but it’s nice to think it’s out there:

    Ten things I like about Tessa (cloud 2)
    1. You clog my voicemail up with messages. Sometimes we store them up and listen to them all together as a treat.
    2. And 50% of the time those messages are utterly unfathomable!💬
    3. Which is strange because you are extremely eloquent and intelligent.
    4. My first memory of you is you carefully stacking salt and vinegar crisps in a cheese sandwich in a departmental meeting.
    5. And you also like diagnosing imaginary ailments via the NHS website.
    6. You laugh like your Dad (although your father sounds a bit more professorial).
    7. And you are effervescent like your mother.
    8. You wear that funny full length night dress at night.
    9. Which hasn’t been in fashion
    since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol.
    10. My mum loved you lots too. X 💐💭🌈

    1. Thanks for getting in touch, ericamidori. Like Tessa N and Sarah’s lists, what’s really striking about this is how, even with just ten things, these lines open a window into a particular relationship, painting a picture of the closeness between you and your friend Tessa.

      We were really glad to receive this, and if Tessa fancies sending a response, we’d be glad to display that too.

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