What You Need To Be Warm


Thirteen ‘extraordinary artists‘ interpret and illustrate memories shared that form What You Need to Be Warm. The memories were submitted in response to a request from Neil Gaiman, contemplating the effects of the advance of winter.

Thereafter, we’ve ‘A smile,/ a touch,/ trust,/ as you/ walk in/ from the snow/ or return to it/ the tips of your ears/ pricked pink/ and frozen’. Nadine Kadaan offers sentry like lolly trees poised over a white background, the orange of home highlighted in the distance.

Then again, there are scant flickers of fire within deep shadows in Bagram Ibatoulline’s ‘changes of state// and state// and state.// to stumble across/ a stony desert,…’

For warmth is not given. What’s more, it is not a seasonal response. Thereafter the breadth of meaning and experience is shared powerfully within What You Need to Be Warm.

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What You Need to Be Warm

Neil Gaiman, with illustrations from 13 extraordinary artists


Neil Gaiman‘s What You Need to Be Warm was inspired by people’s memories of warmth throughout their lives. Thereafter, these memories were woven ‘into a poem‘. What’s more, ‘thirteen extraordinary artists‘ took each memory and illustrated it.
Therefore, we open with ‘a baked potato‘ around which we might wrap our hands ‘or burn [our] mouth[s]‘. What about a blanket knitted by a ‘mother’s cunning fingers’, or a ‘grandmother’s’? Yuliya Gwilym visualises hiding in dark woods and then uses ‘black ink to draw everything‘. Like the other artists there’s orange interwoven within her palette to symbolise the warmth.
Then again, what about ‘Breath-ice on the inside of windows,/ to be scripted off with a fingernail,/ melted with a whole hand’? We’ve the orange of a cold nose and the gaze through the trembling ice, from Daniel Egnéus, whose pictures we love from titles including The Friendship Bench. Meanwhile, Pam Smy depicts the beat of war, the soldier in Ukraine, leaving ‘the tink tink tink of iron radiators’, surfacing ‘from dreams in a bed/ burrowed beneath blankets/ and comforters‘. Thereafter, we see the lone figure leaving this ‘old house‘ to ‘face the chill’.
The pulse of the poetry and the raft of wonderful interpretations is broad and meaningful. We feel the play of warmth against cold. Then again, we realise the human history and meaning of warmth in all its guises. Bookwagon loves and recommends What You Need to Be Warm. 


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