If I had read only The Republic of Motherhood by Liz Berry, I’d still have been grateful for the annual Forward collection. In her accomplished stand-out poem, Berry encapsulates the terrifying changes that happen when a woman becomes a mother, donning a ‘uniform . . . smelling of birth and milk.’ Brilliant. As ever, the Forward collection is a cornucopia of sweet and sour delights: you won’t like everything, but what you love makes up for that. There are many poets new to me, as well as distinguished voices such as Ruth Padel, Denise Riley, Jackie Kay and John Kinsella. Why read poetry at all? Because these firework-bursts of words can lighten the darkest skies.