Book Review: ‘Poems That Make Grown Men Cry’

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry: 100 men on the words that move them is a wonderful poetry anthology, which was released in paperback in May. Edited by father and son Anthony and Ben Holden, the book contains 100 poems picked by men from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, who have chosen the poems which move them the most. The men picked to submit to the anthology include actors, writers, academics, directors, musicians and poets themselves.

Although some of the submissions have a long explanation on what it is about this poem that is so moving, with an analysis of each word and how it evokes emotion, sometimes only a simple explanation is needed. Colin Firth includes in his entry; “I’m reluctant to talk across this poem; I think it says itself perfectly.” This is very accurate; the reader can understand the emotions for themselves.

WH Auden is chosen the most, with five entries in the book. The themes of the poems also cover a wide variety of topics, including bereavement, child loss, love and illness. A quick skim over the introductions will show you what is most likely to move you, from poems written 500 years ago to the present day, although it is very likely that all could do so.

With a preface by Anthony and Ben Holden, the only writing in the book from a female (apart from a selection of the poems) is an afterword by South African writer and activist Nadine Gordimer. This book is also published in partnership with Amnesty International.

Poems That Make Grown Men Cry is certainly not a book for men only, and may make you or someone you know be reminded of why they love poetry, whilst also being introduced to a new range of poets. With a second book, Poems That Make Grown Women Cry, due out in 2016, this anthology will be a welcome addition to your bookshelf.


About writingsuzanne

History graduate. Freelance writer and reviewer. Passionate about film, theatre and music (film soundtracks!).
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4 Responses to Book Review: ‘Poems That Make Grown Men Cry’

  1. This sounds brilliant- thanks for drawing my attention to it. Will def check it out.


  2. theswitz says:

    Interesting. Did you have a personal favourite?


    • Ooh, interesting question. Certainly not a favourite, as I love a lot of the poems in the book, but I am very keen on ‘Love After Love’ by Derek Walcott (picked by Tom Hiddleston). Do you have a ‘poem that makes you cry’?


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