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

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    We’re dedicating this week’s show to poetry, from new faces and old. The Man Booker shortlisted writer Robin Robertson comes in to discuss The Long Take, a postwar noir that follows Walker, a second world war veteran travelling across the US. While his book has been categorised as a novel, Robertson is firm that it is a long-form narrative poem. He talks to Claire about why he feels the poetry world has turned its back on him, polarisation in the arts, and his views on modern America.

    Poet Andrew McMillan, winner of the Guardian’s first-book award in 2015 for his collection Physical, is back with his follow-up Playtime, which explores the ways we build our adult identities during childhood and adolescence. He sits down with Charlotte to discuss the connections between play and sex, and mixing autobiographical and fictional stories in his poems.

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    First-name reminder | Supporting the Guardian | Organ donation | Self-identifying as older | For the Fallen

    Paul Chadwick’s interesting article on honorifics (Open door, 12 November) brought to mind a general irritation. It would be most helpful to those of us with short memories if the first mention of anyone’s name in an article could be highlighted, so that when one comes across an isolated surname further along, it is easier to refer back to the full details. Reading the whole article all over again just to find a name is no pleasure. I hope this can be a consideration in the future.
    Christine Faithfull
    Chichester

    • Katharine Viner’s article (One million supporters: ‘Reader funding model is working. It’s inspiring’, 13 November) is particularly heartening to me. In the mid to late 1960s, when the Guardian cost 6d and was in deep financial trouble, I bought two copies every day, in the hope of the paper surviving. Phew! It’s been a long haul!
    Martin Plaster
    Bristol

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    Scottish poet wins £10,000 prize for his ‘narrative poem’ about a D-Day veteran in search of a home in postwar America

    The Scottish poet Robin Robertson has won the Goldsmiths prize for the year’s most innovative fiction for his debut novel The Long Take, the story of a D-Day veteran written in a mix of verse and prose.

    Robertson, who has won many awards for his poetry, turned to fiction to tell the story of Walker, a D-Day veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder who can’t return home to Nova Scotia after the war and searches for a new way of life in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

    By the time you have finished reading The Long Take, you won’t quite be the same

    Related: Robin Robertson and Andrew McMillan on sex, war and truth in poetry – books podcast

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    Chilean-born author receives lifetime achievement award at ceremony celebrating diversity, truth and literature as healing forces in a dark time

    Sigrid Nunez has won the top prize at the prestigious National Book Awards in New York on Wednesday night, winning the fiction category for her seventh novel, The Friend, about a woman grieving the loss of her beloved literary mentor as she inherits his mourning dog: a 180-pound Great Dane.

    Nunez beat Jamel Brinkley’s short story collection A Lucky Man; Florida by Lauren Groff; Where the Dead Sit Talking by Brandon Hobson; and The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai.

    Related: The Last Children of Tokyo by Yoko Tawada review – an eco-terror mini epic

    I refuse to live in fear – let alone to vote in fear. This is a dark time, my friends

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  • 11/14/18--10:04: Alistair Elliot obituary
  • Poet and translator whose work was inspired by the classical world

    Alistair Elliot, who has died aged 86, was distinguished both as a poet and a translator, combining vast learning with compelling metrical and musical technique and a sharply sympathetic eye for human desire and regret.

    Much of his work was informed by the classical world, as well as French and Italian poetry. The long poem On the Appian Way (1984) followed in the footsteps of the Roman poet Horace on the journey from Rome to Brindisi in 37BC.

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    The Turner prize-winning photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has collaborated with ENO to design the set for Benjamin Britten’s devastating war piece. Here are his exclusive images of the production

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    An unusually genial take on environmental damage gives a fresh spin to an old romantic image

    Moon with a Supermarket Trolley

    From my Juliet balcony
    Overlooking a creek whose bed
    Has been trash-filled for months,
    Moon, I see you preening like a supermodel –

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    Newly discovered fragments of an ancient text reveal an unusual strategy for dealing with an out-of-control leader

    A new bit of The Epic of Gilgamesh, the world’s oldest literary text, has turned up, which is no great news in itself: fragments of clay tablet telling the story of the tyrannical Sumerian king are periodically unearthed, and there is a thrilling expectation that they will continue to be so indefinitely. The narrative has therefore been subject to change, expansion and gap-plugging from its beginnings, in 2100BC, to the Akkadian versions made by copyists (often prisoners of war) in the scriptorium of Nineveh for the pleasure of King Ashurbanipal.

    But the latest twist has piqued the interest. Why? Because it is about sex. It tells us that Enkidu – a very hairy man who grazed with gazelles and freed the beasts from hunters’ traps – was civilised after a mammoth Mesopotamian shagging session that lasted not, as previously thought, a mere week, but an entire fortnight. Ouch.

    Related: 'Some of the most appalling images ever created' – I Am Ashurbanipal review

    Related: Nicholas Lezard's choice: The Epic of Gilgamesh

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    Rose Tremain and Robin Robertson have criticised poets for abandoning ‘craft’ – but that argument silences the possibilities offered by new voices

    Novelist Rose Tremain thinks poetry these days is overrated. “Let’s dare to say it out loud: contemporary poetry is in a rotten state,” she told the TLS this week. “Having binned all the rules, most poets seem to think that rolling out some pastry-coloured prose, adding a sprinkling of white space, then cutting it up into little shapelets will do. I’m fervently hoping for something better soon.”

    Had Tremain really managed to miss the whole of modernism? After all, the modernists swore they had “binned all the rules” at or around the end of the 19th century. For anyone, much less a writer, 20th-century modernist poets are hard to miss; whether it is the sediments of Eliot or Pound, or the brilliant treasures of HD, Mina Loy or Hope Mirrlees. Had Tremain leapt over the cross-currents of the next 100 years from Tennyson to Walter de la Mare to Philip Larkin, flat-footing it on their bald, smooth verse to land on some plaintive lyrical bank of our new century?

    Identity-based poetry is not just the preserve of marginalised voices – white men have been writing it for centuries

    Related: Robin Robertson: ‘The poetry world is polarised. I’m in the middle, vaguely appalled’

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    The Salt Path by Raynor Winn is acclaimed by judges as ‘an absolutely brilliant story about the human capacity to endure’

    A British woman’s account of how she and her terminally ill husband embarked on a 630-mile walk along the South West Coast Path after being made homeless has been shortlisted for the Costa book awards.

    Bailiffs were banging on the windows of their Welsh farmhouse when Raynor Winn, then 50, came up with the idea to pack a few belongings into rucksacks and set out from Minehead along the coastal path. Her husband Moth was diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disease but the couple had nowhere else to go.

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    The poet appointed by lord mayor Magid Magid to champion creative arts wants to change the face of poetry

    People too often think of poetry as posh and white: “the picture of snobbery,” says Otis Mensah. But at just 23-years-old, the self-described working class radical hip-hop artist and storyteller was last month given the title of Sheffield’s first poet in residence. As the first hip hop artist to be awarded a poet laureate title in the UK, he wants to use the position to “break down barriers”, smash the stuffy stereotype, and remind people that poetry is meant to be “for the people”.

    Related: Magid Magid, Sheffield’s lord mayor: ‘I’ve had a lot of stick, but I don’t care’

    Related: Colleges exaggerating arts students' career prospects, says Ofsted chief

    Related: How to study abusers: should reading lists come with a content warning?

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    This beautifully understated life of Francis of Assisi, told in spare, unpreachy verse, illuminates our own times too

    This is unlike any poetry collection I have read. Ann Wroe, accomplished biographer of Shelley, Pontius Pilate and Orpheus, has elected to recount the life of Saint Francis of Assisi as he lived it – through song.

    Not known as a poet (she is obituaries editor on the Economist), Wroe has launched into rhyme as if (as must be the case) she has always been at home in verse. It is with a feeling of incredulous excitement that one realises that this is no less than a devotional book – beautifully published by Cape, with an image of Saint Francis taken from a medieval fresco in Subiaco, Italy, on its blue cloth-bound cover. In our secular age, the book seems literarily heretical – triumphantly unfashionable. But do not imagine it to be conventionally devout. It does what poetry is meant to do, and seldom does: it takes you to another place while making you reflect on what it is to be here.

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    This cheery tribute to bibulous conviviality also serves up a warm moral

    Written at an Inn at Henley

    To thee, fair Freedom! I retire,
    From flattery, cards, and dice, and din;
    Nor art thou found in mansions higher
    Than the low cot, or humble inn.

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  • 11/26/18--06:57: Anthony Edkins obituary
  • My father, Anthony Edkins, who has died aged 91, was a translator, poet, and part-time lecturer at King’s and University colleges in London. He published the first of his six books of poems, Worry Beads, in 1976, and continued to write well into his 90s.

    Anthony was born in Timperley, Cheshire (now Greater Manchester), to Muriel (nee Ashman), a domestic science teacher, and Robert, a builders’ merchant. He went to Cotton college boarding school in Staffordshire and volunteered for the army in 1944 at the age of 17, joining the Royal Artillery Gunners.

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    Children are being taught that there are right and wrong answers in poems

    Do you like poetry? I do. It’s an art form that can entertain, provoke, console, reflect, observe and much more. A breakthrough for me was at primary school when Mrs MacNab got us to perform poems as if we were a choir.

    “Choral speaking”, it was called, so there were solos, duets, sections where we said a whole line together, there were moments when we divided into “parts” and other moments where we created the rhythm with words or sounds. One I enjoyed a lot was Edward Thomas’s Adlestrop. We didn’t have to explain under test conditions what it meant. We got the meaning through the way we interpreted the poem in building up our performance.

    Related: Dear Damian Hinds, What’s so difficult about giving every child a library ticket? | Michael Rosen

    Related: Dear Damian Hinds, reducing learning to yes-no questions, like Brexit, is not a great idea| Michael Rosen

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    Uncollected poems and an essay show the troubled confessional poet striking a much brighter tone than in her more famous work

    A handful of forgotten early works by Anne Sexton, in which the American confessional poet explores a brighter array of subjects than her usual darker fare, has been uncovered by scholars and will see the light of day for the first time in more than half a century.

    Sexton, known for her Pulitzer prize-winning poetry about mental illness and death, began writing after she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital following a breakdown. One of the US’s most acclaimed poets, she killed herself at the age of 45 in 1974, leaving behind her collections including her 1960 debut To Bedlam and Part Way Back and 1967’s Live or Die, which won the Pulitzer.

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    Paper claims Lowell’s earlier writings can be seen in Hughes’s poem Pike and Lawrence’s The Rainbow, but her gender and sexuality made her unpopular

    Ted Hughes’s poem Pike is one of the late poet laureate’s best-known works, taught in schools across the UK and endlessly anthologised. But Hughes’s image of a fish with “green tigering the gold” has an unacknowledged debt to a forgotten poem by the American poet Amy Lowell, according to an English academic who claims that Hughes “confidently fished out the most appealing imagery from the earlier work” in a new paper.

    According to Dr Hannah Roche, a lecturer in English at the University of York, it is “nothing short of incredible” that Hughes’s 1959 poem Pike “has not been considered in its close relation” to Lowell’s 1914 work The Pike. In her paper Myths, Legends, and Apparitional Lesbians, which has just been published in the academic journal Modernist Cultures, Roche pinpoints similarities between the poems.

    Lowell was a rather large lady, a lesbian, a woman, so for all these reasons she’s unpopular, uncelebrated

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    Found in a box, the 400-year-old volume is one of the largest handwritten collections of the poet’s verse and is expected to sell for more than £200,000

    A previously unrecorded handwritten manuscript of John Donne’s poetry has been found in a box at an English country house in Suffolk.

    Dating back 400 years, the bound collection was kept for at least the last two centuries at Melford Hall in Suffolk. Sotheby’s expert Dr Gabriel Heaton was on a “standard checking visit” to the property when he found it in a box with other papers.

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    From Brexit satires to time-travelling murder mysteries and a former first lady’s wry observations on life in the White House, our critics pick the best novels, poetry, sports and children’s books of the year

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    Among her other political concerns, the poet Judith Kazantzis honoured the interest in criminal justice pursued by her father, Lord (Frank) Longford.

    I met her at a Longford prize event, which I was attending as editor of Independent Monitor, a journal concerned particularly with the work done by volunteers for the Independent Monitoring Boards in prisons and immigration removal centres. She then wrote movingly for the Monitor, in April 2006, about her perspective on the years her father spent visiting prisons, and his dedication to the rehabilitation of Myra Hindley. For its title, she used the epitaph he chose for himself: The Outcast’s Outcast.

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