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

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    A new generation of female writers has attracted millions of online followers and an increasingly diverse audience

    Charly Cox is explaining why she thinks her poetry is so popular with young women. “It’s a really difficult age to articulate how you’re feeling,” she says. “We’re all so stressed out. We’re so confused, so lonely. Poetry is an incredible form of solace. If you encounter something in a poem that you feel you’re feeling, it is a freeing, lovely experience.”

    Cox, 23, leapt into the list of top 10 bestselling poets last year with She Must Be Mad, her debut collection of poems about her journey from girl to woman. Like Rupi Kaur, the 26-year-old Canadian-Punjabi who dominated the bestsellers last year, Cox first began publishing on Instagram. “A lot of the poets who are coming from online platforms are women or people of colour, and I think that has unsettled the very traditional, predominantly white, older male community, who have spent so long feeling that poetry is an incredibly exclusive academic club. Well, it’s not any more. Suddenly, it’s being blown open,” she says.

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    A female contemporary of Shakespeare, Wroth’s artistry was constrained by convention but she shows great invention writing around it

    From A Crown of Sonnets Dedicated to Love

    1.

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    When the psych-poppers’ frontman was told he was dying, it sparked an explosion of poetry and painting. As his work goes on show beside Leonardo da Vinci’s, he relives an artistic salvation

    Greg Gilbert should have been having the time of his life. It was 2014 and his band, Delays, were touring the country to celebrate the 10th anniversary of their debut album, Faded Seaside Glamour, which had made indie stars of them in the noughties. He had also just become a father and was engaged to his partner, Stacey.

    But Gilbert was not having the time of his life. He was in almost constant pain – “pain I can’t even describe”. His weight had dropped to 8st and he was beset by anxiety so extreme that he could not contemplate taking medicine, let alone getting himself checked out properly. “The only thing I would take is peppermint capsules,” he says. “I realise now that I was taking peppermint capsules to try to treat bowel cancer.”

    The GoFundMe page launched by his wife broke the site's record

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    Sally Rooney, Sarah Perry and Michael Donkor among those longlisted for £30,000 prize for books by writers aged 39 or under

    From the critically acclaimed debut of Emma Glass, a 31-year-old still working as a nurse, to the first book by 33-year-old Michael Donkor, who currently teaches English in a London secondary school, a “starburst of young literary talent” makes up the longlist for the largest prize in the world for young authors.

    Given to the best literary work in English by an author aged 39 or under, the £30,000 Swansea University International Dylan Thomas prize is named after the beloved Welsh poet, who died at the age of 39. It is intended to “invoke his memory to support the writers of today and nurture the talents of tomorrow”.

    Related: Emma Glass: ‘I hope my book will help people find the language of the ordeal’

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    This collection focuses on a father’s slide into dementia, and the daughter’s acceptance of time passing

    Time – what it is, how it shifts, what happens when we lose our grip on it – is at the heart of Lavinia Greenlaw’s new collection. The first section describes, in snatched, harrowing glimpses, her father’s descent into dementia, a state in which the present is the only available tense; in the second, her grief, which is a function of memory, plunges her into the fourth dimension. In both halves, there’s a subtlety and an intellectual curiosity to Greenlaw’s interrogation of this most fundamental subject that belies the wrench and rawness of the material: through her use of form, micro and macro, she manages to exemplify both her father’s experience of time and her own.

    The poems, short and desolate, capture discrete, disconnected moments: their titles (“My father appears”, “My father’s weakness”, “My father rises whenever”, “My father tells me to wait”) amplify the sense of a man who has shattered into pieces, and is unable to put himself back together. But by building these poems one on top of the other into a coherent whole, Greenlaw overlays his fractured present with her own narrative sense of past and future. Through this collection, she is reconstructing his fragmented history by incorporating it into her own.

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    The whole universe is here.
    Every colour, a few
    on the verge of being barely tolerable.
    Every shape as well as minute flourishes
    created in the prehistory
    of each sandesh by precise pinches.
    The horizontal trays
    brim (but don’t tremble) with mass and form.
    The serrations are near-invisible.
    You’d miss them if they were deeper or clearer.
    The soft oblongs and the minuscule, hard
    pillow-shaped ones are generated
    so neatly that instinct alone
    could have given them shape, and no mould.
    In the harmony shielded by the glass
    is an unnoticed balance of gravity and play.

    • Sweet Shop by Amit Chaudhuri is published by Salt (£9.99). To buy a copy go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over £15, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of £1.99.

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    The journey from gestation to childbirth unfolds as a giddy, fantastic voyage

    Sono

    Out of albumen and blood, out of amniotic brine,
    placental sea-swell, trough, salt-spume and foam,

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  • 02/04/19--04:36: Tom Leonard obituary
  • Scottish poet and author best known for writing in Glasgow dialect

    In 1985 the poet Tom Leonard, who has died aged 74, won the Saltire prize for Scottish Book of the Year with Intimate Voices, a selection of poems and other works, either in Glasgow dialect or in English, from the previous two decades.

    Shortly afterwards it was banned from schools and libraries in the central region of Scotland, the chair of the education committee commenting: “There are some harmful words in it, and I’m not talking about bloody. Sometimes the naked truth has to be clothed.”

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    Adulterous, drug-addled, digitised … the many shades of romance are celebrated by author Emma Jane Unsworth

    The first time I read Carol Ann Duffy’s collection Rapture, I finished it, took a breath, and read it again. I had rarely encountered anything so raw and it contains some of my favourite poetry. It tells the story of an affair – a modern one, for the digitised masses. “I tend to the mobile now like an injured bird / We text text text our significant words.” But something remains of old romance in here, too. These poems are defiantly and gleefully lyrical.

    Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is a nimble, satirical delight – skewering the idea of the tragic woman “on the shelf”. Translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori, it centres on Keiko, a woman who works in a convenience store and finds fulfilment there, much to the disquiet of the people around her who think her life cannot possibly be complete without traditional romance. Questions of what constitutes happiness don’t find easy answers in this novel – especially when love presents itself in man-form and Keiko reacts unexpectedly.

    I avoided Normal People for a long time, mainly because I was sick of people telling me to read it – but holy wow

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    Complex currents of history and geology run through this warm tribute to Sierra Leone

    The Colour of Stones

    I

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  • 02/12/19--09:20: Peter Meilleur obituary
  • My friend the poet Peter Meilleur, whose nom de plume was Childe Roland, has died aged 75. He was an experimental poet with an intensely lyrical voice, whose reputation rests on his visual and sound poetry. His published work is sparse, visually beautiful, the work for voice and performance immense.

    Peter was born in Surrey, where his father, Noel Meilleur, a French-Canadian serviceman stationed in Britain, had met and married Kathleen Goodwin; the family sailed to Canada before the end of the second world war. Peter was brought up in Quebec and went to a French-speaking school before studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. He began writing while at university, and later got a job working for the Canadian government.

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    Collection of writings just released includes references to rape of then-wife Jackie Sturm, herself an acclaimed poet and author

    A new collection of letters from one of New Zealand’s most significant poets, James K Baxter, that includes a blunt admission of marital rape is causing shockwaves through the literary community.

    Baxter died in Auckland in 1972 but remains one of New Zealand’s literary giants. He achieved international attention in the late 1950s after Oxford University Press published his poetry collection, In Fires Of No Return.

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  • 02/15/19--09:08: Mary Oliver obituary
  • Poet with a great affinity for the natural world

    Mary Oliver, who has died aged 83, was perhaps the most popular American poet of the past few decades. The winner of a Pulitzer prize in 1984, she was loved for good reasons. Her poems are simple and straightforward, crystalline, reflecting a deep love of nature, and connecting the spirit world with the physical world in subtle ways. She wrote with a natural, even naive, enthusiasm for life itself, as in her majestic When Death Comes (1991), in which she cries:

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    With soaring sales and a younger, broader audience, poetry is on a high. What is behind the boom? Plus the fresh voices to read now

    Somewhere towards the end of last year, I stood up in front of 400 or so 17-year-olds to talk about poetry. The lecture was one I’d already given in various guises; a comparative reading of two poems: one canonical, the other contemporary. In the past, I’d compared WB Yeats with Sharon Olds, Helen Dunmore with Tishani Doshi, and John Donne with Tiphanie Yanique. That day, we were back with Donne again: “The Sun Rising”, one of the language’s greatest love poems, as fresh and exultant now as it was when it was written four centuries ago. But rather than scouring the work of Forward or Pulitzer prize winners to find something to read with it, this time I turned to YouTube. The poem I chose was Hollie McNish’s “Watching Miserable-Looking Couples in the Supermarket”.

    A few months earlier, McNish had found herself at the centre of a whirlwind, when an argument that had been rumbling for some time behind the poetry world’s tightly closed doors abruptly burst forth in public. McNish – whose vivid, visceral poems have been watched by millions online – had won the Ted Hughes award for new work in poetry in 2016 for her debut collection, and subsequently secured a publishing deal for a new book, Plum, with Picador. Plum came out in 2017, was broadly well received, and rapidly became one of the year’s bestselling collections, part of a surge in poetry sales that was spearheaded by Instapoet Rupi Kaur, whose two collections had together sold in the hundreds of thousands. But it wasn’t until January 2018 that Plum made headlines. Rebecca Watts (a prize-shortlisted poet in her own right) was commissioned to review it for poetry journal PN Review, but submitted, instead, an essay in which she decried “the rise of a cohort of young female poets who are currently being lauded by the poetic establishment for their ‘honesty’ and ‘accessibility’ – buzzwords for the open denigration of intellectual engagement and rejection of craft”. She declined to review Plum on the grounds that “to do so … would imply that it deserves to be taken seriously as poetry”.

    Biography

    Biography

    Biography

    Biography

    Biography

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    A restrained elegy for a friend, this is also a discreet reflection on how to live well in old age

    ‘As you set out …’
    in memory of Ursula S

    Within a week your sons emptied
    your apartment, removed the Giacometti.

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    Twenty books in contention for this year’s £5,000 award encompass stories of bereavement, isolation and marginalisation

    From a girl’s exploration of her Taiwanese heritage following her mother’s suicide to the story of two young carers whose mother is terminally ill, the 2019 longlist for the Carnegie medal rides a wave of children’s books about marginalisation and isolation, poverty and bereavement.

    First won by Arthur Ransome for one of his Swallows and Amazons adventure novels in 1936, the UK’s most prestigious award for children’s books this year encompasses a range topics including depression, assisted dying and gun violence. Novels in the running include The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily XR Pan and Brian Conaghan’s The Weight of a Thousand Feathers, which both deal with the death of a mother; Onjali Q Raúf’s The Boy at the Back of the Class, about a Syrian refugee living in the UK; Emily Thomas’s Mud, about a girl living on a Thames sailing barge with an alcoholic father; and Candy Gourlay’s Bone Talk, which follows a Filipino boy whose tribe is at risk from a US invasion in 1899.

    Related: Jason Reynolds and JD Salinger's posthumous return – books podcast

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    At the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Nevada, friends and performers with wide-ranging views met to discuss climate change, immigration and other concerns ‘without demonizing each other’

    Several weeks ahead of the 35th annual National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, Gail Steiger, a rancher and singer-songwriter from Yavapai county, Arizona, emailed a proposal to a small host of close friends and fellow performers.

    “None of us fit easily in any box, but we all hold each other in high regard,” he wrote.

    Related: Can't we all just get along? A road trip with my Trump-loving cousin

    …This poem,

    then, exists only to sift its own ashen

    How long can we be entertained

    by delusion, the dissolution

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    US poet Ada Limón writes with simple and disarming honesty – for people rather than other poets

    I had never read Ada Limón when I dipped into Bright Dead Thingsand The Carrying (published simultaneously in Britain), but have since discovered that Limón is far from an unknown quantity in her native US. Bright Dead Things, her fourth collection, was shortlisted for the National Book award and feted by Tracy K Smith, the US poet laureate. Limón has been published in the New Yorker and the New York Times. And she is that rare thing – a poet whose work sells.

    It sells for the same reason that it spoke to me. I was ambushed by her power to move – several poems brought a lump to my throat. Yet her popularity is about more than accessibility. She never hides behind words but reveals herself through them – even when the risk is overexposure. She situates herself in her writing as a figure in a landscape – rural Kentucky – and her struggles (especially with fertility in Carrying) are set against this unheeding pastoral scene. In a recent interview, she said she thought it important that poets should not “just write poems for other poets”. She makes no apology for keeping it simple.

    There is an aloneness in this poetry – even in company – and at the same time a generosity in the sharing with readers

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    I don’t know anything about painters or photographers or theatre. Here’s how I fell in love with poetry

    Like most great love stories in 2019, it began with a picture on Instagram. One idle Saturday I was scrolling through the app while avoiding being a functioning member of society, when I saw a beige tile with typewriter-style words on it:

    Now I am quietly waiting for
    the catastrophe of my personality
    to seem beautiful again,
    and interesting, and modern.

    Related: From John Keats to Nick Cave: poems for every stage in life

    I don’t think Frank O’Hara would think it was silly that I discovered his work on a social media app

    I have been to lots of parties
    and acted perfectly disgraceful
    but I never actually collapsed
    oh Lana Turner we love you get up

    Related: Money's playlist: Frank O'Hara, the Fates, Robbie Basho and more

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    A favourite of labels from Stella McCartney to Grace Wales Bonner, the 25-year-old filmmaker, poet and environmental campaigner reflects on the change of the season

    • Read more from the spring/summer 2019 edition of The Fashion, our biannual fashion supplement

    Wilson Oryema is a model and a poet. His first book, Wait, came out at the end of 2017, a year in which he also appeared in shows for Maison Margiela and A-Cold-Wall*. Now a favourite of fashion brands ranging from Stella McCartney to Grace Wales Bonner, the former charity administrator says he started writing poetry as “an interesting way to communicate my ideas on consumption and the way it affects human behaviour and the environment”, and that he is influenced by William Blake and Nayyirah Waheed. And how would he describe his style – in words and clothes? “Functional but fluid,” he says.

    Oryema, who is 25, has all the characteristics of the Gen Z demographic. The Londoner is deeply concerned with sustainability and able to multitask between a bewildering range of things. As well as poetry and modelling, he makes short films and campaigns on environmental issues. “I find balance by choosing to prioritise what’s more important for me and my intentions,” he says. For this poem, written exclusively for The Fashion, Oryema looks at the change of season, the arrival of spring and the impact that has on both outlook and outfit.

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