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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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  • 06/08/17--09:16: Letter: Roy Fisher obituary
  • Roy Fisher was one of those rare individuals who combined a distinctive academic career with a major contribution to modern British poetry. He was also a formidable jazz pianist. When he came to the University of Hull as an external examiner, the ritual examiners’ dinner wound up at the Haworth Arms. Encouraged by Hull’s boisterous Americanists (of which I was one), Roy, with his versatile pianism, soon won over an initially sceptical house band who conveyed their respect by dubbing him “the Prof”.

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    Falling Awake, already a much acclaimed collection, was cheered by 1,000-strong crowd at readings connected with the Canadian award

    Alice Oswald has won one of the world’s richest poetry prizes with her latest collection, Falling Awake.

    This dreamlike vision of the West Country carried off the 2017 International Griffin poetry prize, worth C$65,000 (£37,725). The same sum was also presented to the Vancouver poet Jordan Abel, who took home the Canadian prize with his long poem about cultural appropriation and racism, Injun.

    Related: Falling Awake by Alice Oswald review – a dazzling celebration of nature

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    Britain’s poet laureate responds to the general election result in a work written for the Guardian

    In which her body was a question-mark

    querying her lies; her mouth a ballot-box that bit the hand that fed. Her eyes? They swivelled for a jackpot win. Her heart was a stolen purse;

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  • 06/10/17--03:00: The Saturday poem: Coats
  • by Amaan Hyder

    My parents in a playground,
    playing Follow The Leader.

    I take my father aside. He says, “My father says …”
    I take my mother aside. She says, “My father says …”

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    The poet Tony Walsh, also known as Longfella, performs his poem Net Worked about the young people who voted in the 2017 General Election on Friday. Tony Walsh is the poet who helped Manchester cope with its grief after the recent terror attack on the MEN with his poem This is the Place

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    Novelist and journalist Amanda Craig remembers a warm friend… and literary inspiration

    Like many readers, I “met” and loved Helen, who died aged 64 of cancer last week, through her writing. Her arresting novels, with their exquisitely judged prose, mesmerising plots and complex characters driven by love, lust, hunger and loyalty, entranced me as soon as I discovered them, as did her poetry and children’s novels.

    From Zennor in Darkness, about DH Lawrence in Cornwall during the first world war, to her cold war thriller Exposure, she was always original, moving with ease between historical and contemporary. At a time when women novelists received censure for creating characters who weren’t instantly sympathetic, she could depict incestuous siblings, adulterous lovers and child killers in a way that made you feel their humanity even as you recoiled. Her mothers, daughters, wives and sisters tend to evolve from vulnerable ignorance into formidable heroines; the ferocity of their desire to protect their families from famine or injustice was, I am certain, Helen’s own. She reclaimed the female as life-changing – even Death, in her heartbreaking last poem, Hold Out Your Arms, is seen as a mother.

    To discuss literature with her was to have the pleasure of talking in almost dizzying depth

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    The Belfast poet is nominated for the prestigious honour alongside a diverse selection of writers including Tara Bergin, Nick Makoha and Malika Booker

    A former banker who burned his suits to keep himself from returning to the day job and a poet who funded her way through university by cleaning toilets and working in a call centre join the acclaimed poet Michael Longley on the shortlists for the Forward prizes for poetry, announced on Monday.

    Announcing the shortlists – for best collection, best single poem and best first collection – the chair of judges, broadcaster Andrew Marr, said: “I came away more than ever convinced that if you read journalism alone, or history alone and yet you omit contemporary poetry, then you cannot properly understand the world you live in.”

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    These flowing, musical verses evoke both a deep past and a very modern sense of spirituality

    Cob

    The way we used to live
    in the old house a house
    whose thick walls curved like the living
    flanks of beasts

    Related: Poem of the week: Schubertiad by Fiona Sampson

    Related: Poem of the week: Is Your Country a He Or a She in Your Mouth by Patricia Lockwood

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    The process to credit Ono on John Lennon’s 1971 hit has begun, decades after he acknowledged her poetic influence on it

    Yoko Ono is being lined up for a songwriting credit on her husband John Lennon’s hit ballad Imagine, 46 years after it was written.

    Variety reports that the news was announced at a National Music Publishers Association event in New York, by the association’s CEO, David Israelite. He played a recording of Lennon arguing that Ono deserved a songwriting credit for the 1971 song, because of her inspiration and influence on it. He stated that the process to add her credit, while not yet confirmed, was already under way.

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    The Ted Hughes prize winner explains why she does not wish to be squeezed into a ‘performance poet’ box and why you can love hip-hop and Paradise Lost

    Hollie McNish has stopped talking for a moment; this doesn’t happen much during the interview. I have just asked her why she thinks her “poetic memoir”, Nobody Told Me, recently won the Poetry Society’s Ted Hughes award (previous recipients include Kate Tempest and Alice Oswald). “I really don’t know,” she says after a brief pause, shrugging and pulling awkwardly at the sleeves of her jumper. “I don’t think it’s because those experts in poetry [the judging panel] think the poetry in that book is good.”

    But obviously they think it’s good – they would hardly have given you the prize if they didn’t. She shrugs again. “It’s because it has reached a wide audience,” she explains. “It’s because of where the poetry has gone, not for the quality of the writing.”

    Related: Carol Ann Duffy launches Ted Hughes award

    I don’t know any other art form that attracts people of all colours and genders, between the ages of 15 to 80

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    I am jealous of her mobility, but determined to profit from being left alone with my books

    As I sit down to write, enormous events are happening outside my hideaway here in Cambridge. In Manchester and London, one terrorist attack follows another, as if each group of madmen were jealous of the attention gained by the previous one. At the time of writing, the general election has not yet occurred. No doubt, by the time you read this, everybody will be able to look back and see that the result was inevitable.

    But, right now, anything could happen. Not even the furiously tweeting Donald Trump can be sure of what comes next. As his fingers blur frantically on the keyboard of his device, I must face the fact that there is a maelstrom out there, while I am in here with nothing to contemplate except my own solitude.

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    The essence of humanity is captured by one of the finest poets of his generation through the Troubles, the first world war and the beauty of wilderness

    Angel Hill, or Cnoc nan Aingeal in Gaelic, is a burial ground in the Scottish Highlands, a “soul landscape” that lends its name to Longley’s 11th collection, which this week was shortlisted for the Forward poetry prize. A final resting place among the clouds, Angel Hill is close to the home of his daughter, the painter Sarah Longley, who with “easel and brushes”, “big sheets and charcoal for drawing” is “looking after the headstones”. In Longley’s “Snowdrops”, the hill is peopled by ghosts who are themselves visiting the dead: “Murdo, Alistair, / Duncan, home from the trenches, / Back in Balmacara and Kyle, / Cameronians, Gordon Highlanders / Clambering on hands and knees / Up the steep path to this graveyard.”

    Like Yeats before him, Longley is the elegist and self-elegist par excellence of his generation. The Stairwell (2014) commemorated his late twin brother, Peter. In Angel Hill, Seamus Heaney is another kind of lost brother for Longley, the poet with whom he gave a reading tour of Northern Ireland in 1968 – a tour that Heaney described as the “beginnings of pluralism”, despite the Troubles that followed – and with whom he read in Lisdoonvarna two weeks before Heaney’s death. The friendship, with its “pilgrimages around the North” in Heaney’s muddy Volkswagen, is commemorated in “Room to Rhyme”, a powerful and intimate elegy in which the poet grieves for his subject and remembers his subject’s own grief: “When Oisin Ferran was burned to death, you / Stood helpless in the morgue and wept and wept.” In “Storm”, the “mighty beech” in the poet’s garden, a longstanding symbol in Longley’s work, has “lost an arm”; it is “Wind-wounded, lopsided now”. Where once they “Gazed up through cathedral / Branches at constellations”, now he and Heaney are “Together…counting tree-rings”.

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    When I invited my father Bahram to read Persian verse over my music, neither of us were prepared for such an emotional reaction

    A couple of years ago I decided to collaborate with a poet on a piece of music I’d written – three melancholy minutes of me on piano, my friend Nick on viola – and my mother made a suggestion. Why didn’t I ask my father, Bahram, to recite some Persian poetry over it? I was surprised the idea hadn’t occurred to me before.

    It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of poetry in Iranian culture. As a child, my father was made to commit the ancient poets to heart, and their words continue to provide a moral template for his life, just as they do for much of Iranian society. I’ve seen many a Tehran dinner party end with my father and his friends seated around the table, bouncing lines of Hafez, Saadi or Rumi between each other – one man reciting, another picking up where his friend left off. There are minor humiliations for those who fumble or forget lines, and the whole thing is wrapped in an air of male bravado, but it’s also an experience shot through with emotional openness, and I’ve seen painful verses reduce grown men to tears.

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    The poet on a great children’s TV drama, the magic of Vindolanda and the health benefits of the NutriBullet

    Brought up in west London and Sheffield, Daljit Nagra gained an MA in English literature from Royal Holloway, University of London. In 2004 he was awarded the Forward poetry prize for best single poem, and in 2007 published his award-winning debut collection Look We Have Coming to Dover! Nagra teaches creative writing at Brunel University London and is poet-in-residence at Radio 4, where his Odyssey Project – a series of commissioned poetic responses to Homer’s Odyssey– has just finished. In 2017 Nagra, who often employs “Punglish”, English spoken by Indian Punjabi immigrants, was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His third poetry collection, British Museum (Faber £14.99), a meditation upon multiculturalism, heritage and the legacy of empire, is out now.

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    Hollie McNish | Helmut Kohl | Guardian letters | Bob Dylan’s Nobel speech

    In Alice O’Keefe’s profile of the poet Hollie McNish (‘I always attracted mums and midwives. Now I get poetry lovers,’ 17 June), I note that “She was educated at the local comprehensive, but went on to Cambridge University.” Surely the word should be “and”?
    John Murphy
    Carshalton, Surrey

    Related: Hollie McNish: the politics and poetry of boyfriends, babies and breastfeeding

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    In this week’s choice, academic and critical discourse – and indeed poetry itself – come in for some elegant ribbing

    But Those Unheard

    The next poem we can’t actually see.
    In fact it may not be there at all.
    But if it was there it would solve several problems
    In the poems that we can see. We infer its existence
    From what we believe to be its effects.
    It may be a completely new kind of poem
    Or something similar, that has leverage
    On existing poems, being itself unreadable
    And extremely heavy, and moving at a high speed.
    Heavy invisible rapid poem-like entities
    Which may never be seen or felt, almost certainly underlie
    Existing poems, and may outweigh them
    As the dead outnumber the living.
    And they have an activity, as the dead
    Can bend existing poems and hold them together.
    But these are not dead poems
    (We haven’t got a name for them yet).
    They may explain shivering, wrinkles or otherwise unexplained anomalies
    In poems we thought we understood. Lacunas,
    Leanings, hesitations, small lapses in grammar, odd coinings,
    Unexplained dashes or ashes where commas might be expected,
    A wandering semicolon. Misspellings we pretended to ignore.
    Two instances of hapax legomena in seventeeth century Siamese poems
    Could be explained by a heavy unwritten poem-like entity (about the size of
    Denmark)
    Passing rapidly very close to them or through them.
    In fact the whole field of textual criticism
    Has become much more exciting
    As we study here underground in darkness and close to absolute silence
    Poems we thought we remembered.

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    Barbican, London
    The American singer stretches her voice from mirror-shattering highs to demonic lows in an intense spiritual communion

    In 1990, Diamanda Galás appeared on stage in the world’s second-largest cathedral, Saint John Divine in New York, half-naked and dripping in cow’s blood. Shocked audience members walked out, while the Roman Catholic church – whose bigoted attitude towards people with Aids had incurred Galás’s wrath and inspired her theatrics – called the avant-garde performance artist, composer, singer and pianist blasphemous.

    Following a decade-long break from recording, Galás is celebrating the release of two new albums: At Saint Thomas the Apostle Harlem, a 2016 live recording of “death songs”, and a covers album of jazz and traditional songs called All the Way. But at this show, her reputation as the high priestess of goth enshrined, she has no need for such histrionics. Her capacity to dumbfound and disturb, however, remains resolutely undiminished.

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    St Lucia National Trust says government funding cut forced closure of museum, housed in reconstruction of Nobel-winning poet’s former home

    A museum on the site of the boyhood home of the poet and playwright Derek Walcott has closed amid a funding shortfall that has been linked to disputes over controversial tourist developments on St Lucia.

    The Nobel laureate, who died in March, attended a ceremony last year to mark the opening of the museum, housed in a reconstruction of his former house in the Caribbean island’s capital, Castries.

    Related: Caribbean resort project draws heat over threat to vulnerable species

    Related: Panama cuts formal ties with Taiwan in favour of China

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    In episode one of a three-part series, the medieval ‘poem of crisis’ reveals a world of inequality, corruption and spiritual malaise that is all too familiar

    Subscribe and review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud& Acast and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

    Welcome to a world where money matters. Where the gap between rich and poor has grown to a chasm. Where the moral certainties of the past are slipping away and the threat of apocalypse is never far from your mind. But this is not 2017. It is the world conjured by the 14h century poet William Langland in his surreal, hypnotic masterwork Piers Plowman.

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    In the second of three original podcasts, William Langland’s 14th-century poem is brought into focus against a contemporary backdrop of precarious labour

    Subscribe and review: iTunes, Soundcloud, Audioboom, Mixcloud& Acast and join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter

    In the second of three original podcasts for the Guardian, the dream-vision of Piers Plowman, is reflected against a contemporary backdrop of precarious labour and shifting working practices.

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older | 1 | .... | 117 | 118 | (Page 119) | 120 | 121 | .... | 145 | newer