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The Talking Horse And The Sad Girl And The Village Under The Sea

3.32  ·  Rating Details ·  434 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
This poetry collection combines bittersweet love-lyrics, lucid and bold versions of Horace, comic set-pieces, lullabies, wry postmodern shenanigans (including a note from the official board of censors on '18' certificate poetry), and an entire John Buchan novel condensed to five pages.
Published September 1st 2006 by Picador USA (first published April 11th 2006)
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Apr 26, 2011 Samantha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I sometimes wonder if my opinion of this book has devalued my integrity as a literary critic. I loved it, and so few other poetry lovers seem to. Perhaps in the same way some people are moved to tears by a Rothko painting while others see nothing but a big red blotch, readers of this book will find their hearts profoundly stirred only if they want them to be. Haddon's poetry captivated me because for the most part, I felt without thinking. It asks you to trust it. I found trusting it a very enjo ...more
Jun 30, 2012 Daniel rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
0. Fine Author, Worse Work

Mark Haddon is a fine author. There is no question that he is a master of prose and deserves all the attention The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time received. That said, I don't have a high view of some parts of this book. In some sense you can't keep a good author down, and even in their worse works they will shine in some places anyway. There are a few niggling concerns I have with his poetry that I want to give, then I want to say what I liked about it.

Juliet Wilson
Jun 15, 2009 Juliet Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I love this book! The poems are so vivid and imaginative and so varied - from the surreal to the quietly insightful, from the funny to the moving. I've read the book twice and may read it again.
Apr 23, 2011 Lara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, poetry-poetics, 2011
Coolest cover ever with a moveable paper wheel...unfortunately, I only liked a couple of the poems contained within.
Feb 22, 2013 Nicole rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
I read these out-loud while a guitarist and a drummer practiced beneath my feet.
"In truth, the dwarf worked in a betting shop / and wore an orthopaedic shoe. / The ugly sisters were neither sisters, nor, indeed, women, / nor were they remotely interested in the prince." –‘The Facts’

Haddon’s subject matter is wide-ranging and, characteristically, quirky. He deconstructs the everyday, thereby raising interesting questions for the reader. Such as in ‘The Penguin,’ which is about a trip to Cotswold Wildlife Park, where he muses, ‘A whole world and every part of it / a short wa
Daniel Asay
Nov 07, 2009 Daniel Asay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A collection of poems written by Mark Haddon, the celebrated author of THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME, ranging from short paragraphs to a multi-section story and covering a wide range of topics from books to the death of a loved one.

Most noticeably Haddon uses a TON of language and symbolism. Some of it is very light like terms using the word dog and onomatopoeia for barking noises. Other times it is rich with classical allusions and obscure references. Thus it can provide grea
I read this book for #15 of #26bookswithbringingupburns: 'a book of poems'.

I have basically never read poetry for fun before. Especially not a whole book by one author. Anyway, I picked this because I enjoyed Mark Haddon's novels The Curious Incident and A Spot of Bother. From that I could deduce what his poetry might be like, and I was right: bloody random.

It was quite surreal and many pieces on first reading seemed to make little to no sense, but after re-reading you can sortof see what he is
Vecchio, nuovo, preso in prestito, blu
Il giorno in cui ci siamo incontrati.
Questa busta inaspettata.
La mia maglietta del San Francisco Mime Troupe che indossavi per gingillarti nell'appartamento, le cui maniche tagliate si abbinavano
Ai tuoi occhi.
Quella notte senza sonno.
Questa notte senza sonno.
La faccia che indosserò per stringerti la mano e augurarti il meglio.
Il modo in cui mi sentirò quando lo faccio.
"Paper Moon". La nostra canzone.
"Jesu,Joy of Man's Desiring".
Il mio Ella Live at
Nikolas Kalar
I read Mark Haddon's collection of poetry shortly after I read and thoroughly enjoyed his most famous novel "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime". That said, I didn't enjoy his poetical work nearly as much. I couldn't find any rhyme or reason or connecting theme between the selected works, and couldn't find any idea of rhythm or intention within individual poems themselves. It seems to be a lot of imagery and little idea. With the exception of the poems "Cabin Doors to Automatic" an ...more
May 12, 2008 Erica rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who love bad poetry.
Shelves: 2008

This is Mark Haddon's new book of poems.

I did not like it.

There is one poem that I felt lukewarm feelings for. Read it below.

Overall Grade: 1 out of 5 stars.


Leuconoe, stop examining your
Babylonian horoscopes
and wondering what kind of death
the gods have got in mind for us.

We'll never know. Accept it.
This winter pummeling the ocean
on the pumice rocks of Tuscany
may be our last.

Or not. Be sensible and pour the wine.
This life's too short for longing
and the clock spins as we speak.
Days come and
☕ Pixie
Oct 24, 2012 ☕ Pixie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry, 2012
OK, so it gets better from around page 30. Maybe I need to re-read the first 30 pages now that I 'get' him a little more. Having not read Buchan I missed most of the allusions in that particular piece, however I think one poem from within it stands alone quite beautifully anyway:

Chapter 10 - Aura

So small a thing
that little room of sleep,
yet it was sealed to him.
He walked the empty street.
Hot breath of baking.
Garbage in the gutters.
A bicycle. The derelict
torches of the stars.

Rebekah W.
May 22, 2014 Rebekah W. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-poets
I'm not a poetry expert. Quite the opposite, actually. Most often, I stick to my world of novels and don't branch out much but on a whim I chose this book (mostly because of it's cover, actually. I'm a horribly firm believer in covers). It was intensely enjoyable for me and, though I'm not convinced on his ability to form a complete poem, there were moments, beautiful, expansive, intimate moments that inspired me greatly.

For this I would read it again and try to climb into it a bit more.
Mar 24, 2012 Countercheck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Apparently I'm in the minority here, but I really, really liked this, especially his translations of Horace. Short Fuse and Rescued are remarkably good. I'd like to see him try Catullus. I'll admit that sometimes he gets a little too clever, and sure, he relies heavily on allusions, but those are not in and of themselves bad things. When they work, they really work, and I think many of these poems work very well indeed.
Nov 27, 2015 Kiaya rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Like the first day of a new school; full of words you know but inside jokes you don't understand. Your contribution is politely considered and then discarded.
But it grows and you persevere, and soon you have fleeting glimpses of friendship and belonging.
I don't get poetry, but I am determined to be its friend.
Jun 22, 2013 Karen rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Disappointing because it came across to me as poetry that was written as 'project pieces' or at the suggestion of someone else - as children or teenagers are 'made' to write poems on subjects others give them - rather than from the heart of the poet. Skillful and clever but just not something which I found myself connecting to in any way.
Jerome K
Aug 14, 2007 Jerome K rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked Mark Haddon's Curious Incident novel. But I read his poems before I read this. I enjoyed the novel more I must say but the poems are very well written nevertheless. And I did enjoy reading them, though some of the subject matter of the poems seem a bit obscure. Still, he's a very good poet and this is worth checking out if you're into poetry.
Shonna Froebel
Nov 16, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
A book of poetry with a definite twist to it. The poems all flow beautifully, but you really have to read carefully and think hard to determine the meaning of some of them. Some of them are very dark, and I like the others better.
Tamara Taylor
Meh. It was nothing spectacular. Maybe I'm reading it wrong? Maybe you are supposed to enjoy poetry in small bites, meant to be savoured slowly over time? I have enjoyed poetry in the past where the words elicit a deep, almost painful response. This collection didn't do it for me.
Aug 01, 2012 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a pretty good selection of poems. Not sure I really liked Haddon's poetry style, but it was pretty good.
Mar 26, 2007 Toby rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Published only because of his success with Curious Incident, not because of its own merits, which are few.
Some of these are haunting and some are funny and some are just weird. I like his way of looking at the world.
May 19, 2008 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't follow the logic of the book's organization. And most of the poems fell flat for me. Haddon is definitely a better novelist!
Meghan Chiampa
this book was ok. poetry was kind of silly and light nothing really that exciting. they remind me of blue glass. pretty to look at but kind of see through.
Jan 03, 2012 Gaz rated it it was ok
I'm fond of 'This Poem is Certificate 18' and enjoyed 'Nuns' and 'Christmas Night, 1930'. Some real nice imagery in those, but quite a lot of this shit left me cold...
Jan 27, 2009 Henny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
i think i like mark haddon the novelist more than mark haddon the poet, but maybe that's just me. the book is entertaining, though.
Oct 24, 2012 Katrina rated it it was ok
Great author, but aside from a few gems in this collection, his poetry is rather...for lack of a better word: bland - and forgettable. Shame, I generally really like his work.
Sep 12, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't love every poem. But there were 4 or 5 poems in here that blew me away, and that's enough for me to rate it 4 stars.
Heather Renfroe
Sep 10, 2008 Heather Renfroe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I picked it up from a clearance table because it has a cool cover. Now I understand why it was on a clearance table.
Matt Hunt
Feb 12, 2016 Matt Hunt rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry, 2016
Very mixed bag.
Okay, not inspiring. Apart from "This poem is certificate 18" which I thought was wonderful.
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Mark Haddon is a British novelist and poet, best known for his 2003 novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. He was educated at Uppingham School and Merton College, Oxford, where he studied English.

In 2003, Haddon won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award and in 2004, the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Overall Best First Book for his novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-t
More about Mark Haddon...

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Consider me.
I sit here like Tiberius,
inscrutable and grand.
I will let "I dare not"
wait upon "I would"
and bear the twangling
of your small guitar
because you are my owl
and foster me with milk.
Why wet my paw?
Just keep me in a bag
and no one knows the truth.
I am familiar with witches
and stand a better chance in hell than you
for I can dance on hot bricks,
leap your height
and land on all fours.
I am the servant of the Living God.
I worship in my way.
Look into these slit green stones
and follow your reflected lights
into the dark.

Michel, Duc de Montaigne, knew.
You don't play with me.
I play with you.”
“This is how we leave the world,
with the heart weeping,
and the hope that distance
brings the solving wonder
of one last clear view
before that long sleep
about the weather's changes”
More quotes…