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Carrying the Elephant: A Memoir of Love and Loss Paperback – 7 Nov 2002

4.5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 83 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 1st edition (7 Nov. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141010274
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141010274
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 0.7 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 454,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Rosen is one of the most popular contemporary poets and authors of books for children. His titles include We're Going on a Bear Hunt which was the winner of the Smarties Book Prize (9780744523232), Michael Rosen's Sad Book (9781406313616) and Totally Wonderful Miss Plumberry (9781406305500). The presenter of "Word of Mouth" on BBC Radio 4, he received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for services to children's literature in 1997.

Product Description

About the Author

Michael Rosen was born and brought up in north London. Since the early 70s he has made his living from writing, performing and broadcasting. He is a regular on Radio 4 and the World Service. He has won numerous awards both for his broadcasting and for his children's poetry. He lives in Hackney.

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Carrying the Elephant is made up of 72 untitled, and mostly very short, prose poems, picking out vivid scenes from Michael Rosen's life so far, and then on to the next, which could be minutes or years later. The effect is a bit like shaking a kaleidoscope instead of turning it steadily.
Only around twenty of the pieces - embedded at the heart of the collection - deal directly with Rosen's son's sudden death from meningitis at the age of eighteen, but the pain and shock of that devastating event seem to spread outwards through the whole collection. Or maybe that's just how it seemed to me. I bought this book when I was desperately struggling with a very similar loss, frantically grabbing at poetry to distill feelings that prose somehow couldn't touch, feeling able to read half a page on a good day, when a whole book was impossible.
What Rosen does is to capture the unpredictable and the unacceptable - the feelings you probably wouldn't know about if you haven't been there, and the ones you'd probably hesitate to voice if you have. This is immensely liberating. Rosen is particularly good on conveying the inability to do normal things or think normal thoughts, and the even more frightening inability to know what you think or what you feel. And while that's happening, you've got other people's reactions to deal with somehow. Rosen gets it spot on with a deadpan account of a perfectly decent person getting it horribly wrong - the neighbour who nervously comments "Rather you than me" before going on to mention the football. Rosen follows this up with someone probably a lot closer to him getting it in the neck with the angry "Don't tell me that I mourn too much". Yes, that feeling sounds familiar. So does the loneliness and bewilderment of "I can't answer your question 'what can I say?
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Comment 67 of 67 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
I bought this after seeing Michael Rosen (now children's poet laureate) at a book festival where he managed to keep an audience of children and adults captivated for well over an hour with his stories and snapshots of his life and family.

The poems in Carrying the Elephant are the same thing - significant fragments and pieces from his life that tell you a lot about him and his family.

They all feel quite dark but the most important ones are those in the middle of the book that deal with the unexpected death of his 18-year-old son from meningitis. These include the angry "don't tell me how to mourn" poem which is an exact replication of the anger felt at an unexplainable and unexpected death and a lot of other poems dealing with the deep deep grief he felt.

This is clever, modern poetry that reads more like prose than poems but it works well in capturing the honesty of Rosen's feelings and emotions expressed here. Overly flowerly and dense wordy poetry would detract from the thoughts and feelings that he has distilled down to the bare elements.

Worth reading if you're grieving or if someone close to you is as it lays out the confusion, anger and other emotions of grief in a simple way that's easier to understand.
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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
In these 72 prose poems Michael Rosen displays a lifetime of fascination with words and poetry. These little epigrams are always entertaining to read, though never self-important. Casual, almost throwaway, they amuse and provoke with flashes of wit and self-deprecation. Some of them speak of real events - Pinter and Co's protest against the Iraq war, for instance, while others are more obscure, in origin, if not in effect. They most often raised a smile in me, and are, of course, very slight, though capable of seriousness where necessary. This is an unusual small collection - I am not sure anyone else could pull it off with quite so much aplomb.
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