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

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    Literature body blames ‘difficult funding situation in the arts’ as it announces restructuring hiatus in bid to protect long-running Suffolk festival

    The future of the long-running Aldeburgh poetry festival is in doubt after the Poetry Trust announced overnight that, because of funding shortfalls, all of its staff were leaving and its offices were closing.

    Only a month after this year’s festival in the Suffolk seaside town, the Poetry Trust, which runs the event, said on Tuesday that“given the difficult funding situation in the arts at the moment”, it had decided it was the right time to pause and review how it operated.

    It's a sad day in the office as we announce changes in The Poetry Trust structure. Let's hope for good news in 2016. https://t.co/l948Nv3OX1

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    The speeches, interviews and tweets of the Republican presidential candidate have been made into a book of verse, Bard of the Deal

    The interviews, speeches and tweets of outspoken tycoon-turned-presidential-candidate Donald Trump have been transformed into what publisher HarperCollins is calling a “treasury of spoken poetry”.

    Compiled from three decades of material by the author and reporter Hart Seely, book of verse Bard of the Deal arrives on bookshelves on 15 December. Not a word of Trump’s has been changed to create the poems, said HarperCollins, pointing to the piece The Vicious Ones, pulled from Trump’s 9 August appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, as a highlight.

    I was attacked viciously
    By those women,
    Of course, it’s very hard for them
    To attack me on looks,
    Because I’m so good-looking.

    But I was attacked very viciously
    By those women.

    Nabisco. Nabisco!
    Oreos! Right?
    Oreos! I love Oreos!

    I’ll never eat them again. OK?
    I’ll never eat them again.

    I.

    Worst pile of crap
    Architecture
    I’ve ever seen.

    One of Lyda’s aides stopped me in the hall
    To say the building was getting a kick
    Out of my ‘burnt toast’ episode this morning
    That caused the fire alarms to go off
    For 20 minutes
    And caused an evacuation.

    She thought it was funny
    I was cooking breakfast in the capitol
    And burnt it.

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  • 12/03/15--04:47: Poster poems: ice
  • The element of frozen hell and hopeless waters, the indifferent heart and the chill hand of loss. Thaw out your imagination and submit your ice-capped rimes

    The first frost of winter is one of the clearest markers of change in the annual cycle of life. Nothing quite signals nature’s hibernation, the temporary cessation of growth, like a crisp layer of ice settling on the earth, whitening the grass and freezing the surface of lake and stream. Little wonder that ice has come to symbolise emotional and physical demise in so many cultural and artistic contexts.

    If the hoar frost grip thy tent

    Thou wilt give thanks when night is spent.

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    Tomorrow sees the announcement of the winners of the Young Muslim Writers awards, a rare opportunity for schoolchildren to express themselves against negative media portrayals

    Fourteen-year-old Shebana Khan, from Walthamstow, north London, writes poetry in her spare time as a way to express herself. She might be softly spoken, but she certainly doesn’t hold back. When she recites her poetry, she speaks quickly and rhythmically, punching the air to accentuate her words.

    She is a pupil at the Lammas school and sixth form in Waltham Forest, one of London’s most deprived boroughs, and has performed her poetry at the Houses of Parliament. Earlier this year she entered one of her poems, The Circus of Lies, into the Young Muslim Writers awards.

    Every child matters and every child deserves to be educated, regardless of faith, ​race and colour

    Statistics show the academic achievements of children from Bangladeshi and Pakistani backgrounds are lower

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    Crymych, Pembrokeshire There’s a spaciousness, an atmosphere about Preseli that enchants

    Green paths through heather, low sun picking out tints of its late flowering, led to the ramparts of Foel Drygarn. This easternmost top of Mynydd Preseli is a rewarding objective for short winter days. It only reaches 363 metres above sea level, but geographical and historical texture compensate for lack of height. Three huge, ruined, late bronze age cairns lie within its defensive hilltop enclosure. The dragon-crest tor rising from moist haze westerly is Carn Goedog, whence came the speckled dolerite menhirs of Stonehenge.

    The Golden Road – an ancient ridgeway from Crymych to the Gwaun valley – faded into distant dove-grey, slipped across low ridges that terminate in successive fine headlands along the north Pembrokeshire coast. There’s a spaciousness, an atmosphere about Preseli that enchants. I offered prayers of thanksgiving to the Reverend Parri Roberts and the poet Waldo Williams, who successfully resisted postwar military designs on 16,000 acres of this prime landscape for more of the training areas that blight so much of Britain. “We nurture souls in these areas,” Roberts wrote; and through his efforts Preseli does so still.

    Related: Poem of the week: The Windhover by Gerard Manley Hopkins

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  • 12/05/15--12:21: William McIlvanney obituary
  • Scottish novelist and poet whose stories of the philosophical Glasgow police detective Jack Laidlaw made him ‘the godfather of tartan noir’

    William McIlvanney, who has died aged 79, grew into the title “the godfather of tartan noir” – the term for Scottish crime fiction – though it was not one he fully welcomed. His grander ambitions are represented by the autobiographical novel Docherty (1975), a kind of Sons and Lovers of the industrial west of Scotland, for which McIlvanney was awarded the Whitbread prize. It was, however, the Glasgow-based crime novel Laidlaw, published two years later, which caught the fancy of the broader reading public.

    Detectives with existential anxieties, marriage problems and a deep literary hinterland are not uncommon now, but Detective Inspector Jack Laidlaw was a bright arrival on a dull Scottish literary scene in 1977. In policing the rougher territories of Glasgow and environs, Laidlaw found many things stacked against him; what he had going for him were a realistic outlook on life, abundantly laced with wit and philosophical reflection – a voice he inherited from his highly articulate creator.

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    A Welsh poem, translated by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, uses the form of catechism to gently address some universal dilemmas

    What is Man?

    What is living? The broad hall found
    between narrow walls.
    What is acknowledging? Finding the one root
    under the branches’ tangle.

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    Poet and translator inspired by travels in Turkey who translated works from German, French, Turkish and Spanish

    In 1966 the poet, translator and essayist Christopher Middleton, who has died aged 89, left Britain for the University of Texas at Austin, where he was professor of Germanic languages and literature for the next 32 years. The range of his work ensured that his name was known to many, but with the effect that his poetry was left hidden in plain sight, even though the poet Geoffrey Hill declared him “a major poet of our times”, and in 1964 he had received – from TS Eliot – the Geoffrey Faber memorial prize. This was for his collection Torse 3: Poems 1949-61, and more than 20 volumes of poetry followed it.

    Middleton’s reputation was not yet fully consolidated when he went to the US, and there he moved in directions that poetry in Britain had not begun to explore, the new country giving him the freedom he required without having to adopt its idiom. Although he drew upon French and German poetry, he never sacrificed English sonorities. This contradiction, an Englishness constantly at war with itself, is most succinctly voiced in his poem The Lime Tree, in which mother, country and tree are indistinguishable:

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    What a pity that Mike Godwin (Letters, 3 December) spent the 30th anniversary of Philip Larkin’s death on a lonely pilgrimage to Larkin’s grave in Cottingham. If only he had thought a bit about it, he might have found his way to the Brynmor Jones Library at the University of Hull, where Larkin was librarian for 30 years. There he would have discovered more than 150 members of the Larkin Society, including his biographer James Booth and his formidable secretary Betty Mackereth, enjoying wine and food in their annual celebration of the great poet, surrounded by a wonderful exhibition of Larkin photographs.

    As chair of Hull City of Culture 2017, I was invited to speak about “Larkin in the light of 2017”, and did so with the assistance of my cherished first edition copy of The Whitsun Weddings. The night was a joyous and totally unforlorn occasion, held in the building he loved. I suspect Larkin would have revelled in it. Next December, we shall all be at Westminster Abbey for the unveiling of Larkin’s plaque in Poets’ Corner. I suggest Mike Godwin comes along.
    Rosie Millard
    Chair, Hull City of Culture 2017

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    From Clive James’s Sentenced to Life to Andrew McMillan’s Physical and Claudia Rankine’s Citizen – this year’s poetry roundup

    Poetry cannot be hurried; it is no respecter of deadlines. Yet the quantity of poems published each year is daunting and asks for speed. Sometimes, I’ll pick up a volume by someone I’ve never heard of, open it at random and be rooted to the spot. At other times, a collection by a known poet will prove sealed as a dud mussel, and get cast aside. Inevitably, with only a dozen columns a year, there will be noteworthy collections that slip through the net. But poetry is not a competition; nothing is more personal, unpredictable and mysterious. For this reason, I am uneasy about the poetry prizes that make or consolidate names. Yet when one finds a poem that works, there is, however illusory the feeling might be, a certainty that has an acquisitive edge to it – like stumbling upon a pearl.

    Related: Clive James: ‘I’ve got a lot done since my death’

    Murray sends himself up as an “old book troglodyte”, but there is not a trace of the has-been about his matchless voice

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    WH Davies may have been restless, but he also knew how to stand still and appreciate the world. It’s a good combination for a writer

    The Welsh poet and author WH Davies spent much of his life on the road. There’s a moment in A Poet’s Pilgrimage, first published in 1918 and extracted here, in which the writer stops an old man who is travelling between Carmarthen and Kidwelly, some 10 miles distant, to ask if there are any inns along the way. Yes, he is told, “but if you will take my advice you will keep out of places of that kind. I have not been inside one for 13 years. If I had, I would not be the owner of this.” And he points to a rusty old bicycle, the pitiful product of 13 years’ abstinence, and rides off.

    This is one of the more benign moments in Davies’ perambulations. He had by this time achieved success with his first books, The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp, Beggars and The True Traveller; he was back in his native country after years of train-hopping in America and Canada, and, as he puts it, “full of joy at the thought of going on and on”. He also had, by this stage, the esteem of George Bernard Shaw, and the friendship of Edward Thomas (yet to be killed in the trenches).

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    Poet and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, who was represented by an empty chair at his 2010 Nobel prize ceremony, was detained in 2008 and sentenced to 11 years in prison

    Margaret Atwood and Ian Rankin are among high-profile writers who have urged China to release Nobel laureate and poet Liu Xiaobo on the seventh anniversary of his arrest for “inciting subversion of state power”.

    The poet and human rights defender was sentenced to 11 years in prison after a long history of dissident writing and peaceful protest. He was initially detained in 2008, as the leading author of Charter ‘08, a manifesto calling for democratic and human rights reform in China. He was later charged in 2009.

    Living in relative safety, we try to imagine the cost of speaking out. Liu Xiaobo has put his life on the line.

    Related: 'Your Lifelong Prisoner' – Liu Xiaobo's poem from prison

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    Fifty years since the Watts riots kickstarted his experimental spoken word group, poet and proto-rapper Otis O’Solomon reflects on the anger that drove thousands to the streets – and whether anything has changed

    “The truth never spoils,” says Otis O’Solomon. You wouldn’t immediately assume this bushy haired, wily looking man who has just turned 76 has anything to do with hip-hop, but as a poet and artist, he is the forefather of NWA, Public Enemy and Kendrick Lamar.

    O’Solomon sits in the Watts Coffee House, a popular meeting place in LA’s historic black enclave. A vinyl copy of When the 90s Came, the 1997 music and spoken-word album he recorded as part of the Watts Prophets, is proudly displayed at the front of the restaurant. It was in this neighbourhood, in the wake of a major riot, that he forged poetry that created the template for the rap phenomenon that was to follow.

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    From Philip Larkin to Alice Oswald, this collection drawn from Radio 4’s Poetry Please lures with the familiar then hooks with the new

    Forget for a moment what you know about books and their covers, and consider Faber’s latest anthology with a judicious eye. From the heavy, silky card to the tasteful artwork and the title font’s restrained serif, it’s a masterclass in elegant, unthreatening nostalgia. The illustration (stamped straight on to the boards: no fiddly dust jacket here) is a thing of seemly beauty: a linocut of a spare winter landscape of low hills and bare black trees, richly lit by a brace of pheasants and a spray of red rose hips. We know it’s a British landscape (frankly, we suspect it’s an English one) thanks to the subtitle’s adroit deployment of “the Nation”, and the sense of cosy patriotism is amplified by a discreet tagline in the top-left corner which informs us that the poems are “as heard on Radio 4’s Poetry Please”. This is a book intended for the Christmas market – the what-to-buy-your-aunt-who-likes-poetry market – and the cover does a superb job of reassuring us that nothing contained within it is likely to scare the horses.

    The poems themselves make good on the cover’s promise. Nature poems are reassuring by – well, by their nature: for most of us, they are the first poems we encounter (I have vivid memories of making a wall display of Walter de la Mare’s “Silver” with a bunch of other eight-year-olds for our school hall), and we absorb them before anyone has had a chance to explain that, actually, poetry is difficult and impenetrable and not to be trusted. We carry the idea into adulthood that nature is an appropriate subject for poetry, and classroom staples such as “Adlestrop” and “In the Bleak Midwinter” (both included here) soothe us with their familiarity. And if nature poems are reassuring, poems on the seasons are doubly so. No matter what’s happening in your life, there’s comfort to be derived from observing the ebb and flow of spring’s slow swelling and autumn’s gaudy decline; from the reminder that time is cyclical as well as linear, and that change itself is changeless.

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    Half-Chinese author’s debut collection Loop of Jade, exploring her dual heritage, praised by judges as ‘a work of astonishing originality’

    Sarah Howe has been named young writer of the year for a “luminous” first collection of poetry exploring her dual English and Chinese heritage, Loop of Jade.

    Howe, 32, was named winner of the Sunday Times/Peters Fraser and Dunlop young writer of the year award on Thursday night. The £5,000 prize, won in the past by Zadie Smith, Robert Macfarlane and Simon Armitage, is for the best piece of fiction, non-fiction or poetry by a British or Irish writer aged 35 or under.

    Related: Stephen Hawking demonstrates Relativity for National Poetry Day

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    Fiction, food, biographies, sport... the best books of the year as selected by critics and authors for the Guardian and the Observer

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    During singer’s emotional appearance, Joshua Sasse reads work written by his father, the late poet Dominic Sasse

    Kylie Minogue’s new partner, the British actor Joshua Sasse, is to surprise her by reading her a sensual love poem written by his late father on national radio on Sunday.

    Minogue, who says she is now “kind of on cloud nine most of the time because of Mr Joshua Sasse, my beau”, is the castaway on BBC Radio 4’s show Desert Island Discs.

    Related: How to put on a mega-gig: the head of wardrobe’s story

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    The poet remembers a childhood with foster parents and in a children’s home, and how he now tries to give good food memories to other kids in care

    My strict Baptist foster parents, who were white and based all their decisions on religion, lived in Atherton [in Lancashire], which I loved, with its Wednesday market, Mrs Jolly’s corner shop, Mr English’s Chippy and the butcher’s where I got my first Saturday job at 11, scraping clean the butcher’s block with a metal brush.

    My foster mother was the food-maker and I remember a lot of stress in the kitchen. She guarded the hob with her stress. She’d often get burnt with spit from the frying pan and I didn’t like her getting hurt. I loved it when she offered the cake-making bowl to scrape clean. The height of sophistication was an arctic roll on Sunday, when no TV was allowed.

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    Considering his vocation in old age, the poet reflects wryly on what he can expect from a lifetime’s work

    Silkworms Work and Love Till Death

    He kept a list of poems there were to write,
    A personal list, imperative and sour –
    Beyond his windows all was digital,
    The nominative unpleasantness of thought
    Recurred, he reasoned, every day in speech.
    He feared the public knew the thing he was,
    And one of those who would not be alone.

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    Dutch poetry site claims Allen Prowle’s translations of Rutger Kopland are ‘blatant plagiarism’

    Following accusations of plagiarism, the winner of the Stephen Spender prize for poetry in translation has withdrawn his poems from the award and returned his £1,000 prize money.

    Poet and translator Allen Prowle took the award last month for his translation of Dutch poet Rutger Kopland’s Johnson Brothers Ltd, about the death of Kopland’s father, a translation described as “superb” by judges. The win was Prowle’s second triumph in the Spender prize, which he had previously won in 2007 for his translations of Attilio Bertolucci’s poems.

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