Articles on this Page
- 03/31/16--11:47: _Poetry Society top ...
- 04/01/16--06:00: _Kate Tempest: ‘It’s...
- 04/02/16--03:00: _Eileen Myles: ‘My n...
- 04/02/16--03:00: _The Saturday Poem: ...
- 04/03/16--00:00: _Papusza review – po...
- 04/03/16--04:00: _Austerity Measures:...
- 04/04/16--03:54: _Poem of the week: T...
- 04/06/16--19:17: _Calvin Trillin defe...
- 04/06/16--22:00: _Edward Thomas's In ...
- 04/08/16--04:00: _The Bricks that Bui...
- 04/08/16--04:00: _From gay conspiracy...
- 04/08/16--10:30: _Russian poetry and ...
- 04/08/16--22:00: _I love you, said my...
- 04/09/16--01:00: _Michael Hofmann: ‘E...
- 04/09/16--03:00: _My Hero: my English...
- 04/10/16--21:45: _The 100 best nonfic...
- 04/11/16--05:27: _Poem of the week: S...
- 04/13/16--01:30: _English Renaissance...
- 04/14/16--03:33: _Frankenstein read b...
- 04/14/16--04:16: _Damian Lewis and He...
- 03/31/16--11:47: Poetry Society top prize explores familial discord
- 04/02/16--03:00: Eileen Myles: ‘My next book’s about a time-travelling dog’
- 04/02/16--03:00: The Saturday Poem: Night Errand
- 04/03/16--00:00: Papusza review – ponderous tale of a Polish poet
- 04/03/16--04:00: Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry – review
- 04/04/16--03:54: Poem of the week: The Dogs by Sam Buchan-Watts
- 04/06/16--19:17: Calvin Trillin defends his Chinese food poem in the New Yorker
- 04/08/16--22:00: I love you, said my mother – words I’d waited to hear all my life
- 04/09/16--03:00: My Hero: my English teacher by Andrew Motion
- 04/10/16--21:45: The 100 best nonfiction books: No 11 – North by Seamus Heaney (1975)
- 04/11/16--05:27: Poem of the week: Sonnet XIII by William Shakespeare
- 04/13/16--01:30: English Renaissance Poetry review – a manual on how to write verse
- 04/14/16--03:33: Frankenstein read by Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory – video
Eric Berlin wins prestigious award with poem Night Errand, while David Morley takes Ted Hughes prize
A poem exploring the fleeting flashes of anger we direct at our family, and the shame that it brings, has been chosen from more than 12,000 entries for one of the UK’s most prestigious poetry prizes.
Eric Berlin’s poem Night Errand was named winner of the Poetry Society’s 38th national poetry competition, a prize which each year rewards unpublished single poems from a colossal number of entries.
O, Great Northern Mall, you dwindling oracle
of upstate New York, your colossal lot
John Clare weaves English words into a nest
and in the cup he stipples rhyme, like mud,Continue reading...
She has written poetry, plays and an album – but the greatest challenge has been her new novel
At the beginning of an idea, there is the feeling that it could go anywhere, but it usually wants to be expressed in a particular way. I am interested in people who speak many languages; I always ask friends or acquaintances who do, if there is a moment when a thought is pure thought, before they decide in which language to express it. The answer, so far, is always no – that depending on the nature of the thought, it occurs in different languages from the moment it’s conceived. I’ve been told that thinking about love or loving feelings is easier in French than in English, and easier in Arabic than in French. One friend said that she can say things in Spanish she would never say in English.
I feel the same about the different forms I work in. Rhyming is my “mother tongue”. And I have learnt, or am in the process of learning, the “other tongues” of fiction, playwrighting and “page” poetry. It’s as if the idea knows which form it wants, the same way a thought knows which language.Continue reading...
The poet and writer, 66, on punk poetry, seeing her own funeral and dating younger women
If I hadn’t given up drinking, I’d be dead. I’ll be 33 years sober in May, and I’m 66 years old. Thirty-three has been a magic number for me for so many years, because in a way it was the year that I died. When I first got sober and I walked through New York, I felt like a ghost. And there were so many ghosts of nights and stories around the city.
I’m really not a punk poet. But I got known as one because I wrote a poem about how I didn’t care that Robert Lowell had died. I was young, and I thought we should celebrate poets when they’re alive and then just shit on them when they die.
I’ve been having a good time. I’m waiting for people to really start to hate meContinue reading...
by Eric Berlin, winner of the National Poetry Competition 2015
O, Great Northern Mall, you dwindling oracle
of upstate New York, your colossal lot
of frost-heaved spaces so vacant I could cut
straight through while blinking and keep my eyes
This biopic of Romany poet Bronislawa Wajs features a little too much landscape and not enough life
If you like artfully crafted old-school black-and-white cinematography, of the sort that distinguished Pawel Pawlikowski’s Ida, you may well be enraptured by Polish film Papusza. It’s fabulously shot by Krzysztof Ptak, with any number of gorgeous landscape tableaux; I could have stared and stared at the opening shot alone. But visuals apart, this biopic is frustratingly slack. It’s the story of poet Bronislawa Wajs – AKA Papusza, meaning “doll” – who became a celebrated figure in Poland while living a life of exclusion. Early on, we see her released from imprisonment for stealing a chicken and rushed to a concert hall to attend an oratorio based on her verse.
The film skips non-chronologically through her life, including episodes from childhood, days on the road as a young woman and a frustratingly cursory glimpse of her struggle to survive during the second world war. The most interesting thread, never quite made the most of, is her relationship with a domineering man who, we eventually discover, is an uncle she has been forced to marry.Continue reading...
This literary response to the financial crisis gives a fascinating insight into Greece’s emotional mood and hopes for the future
According to Karen Van Dyck, a professor of modern Greek literature at Columbia and this book’s discerning editor, Greece has less of most things than it once did – except poetry. Since 2008 there has been an extraordinary burgeoning of poetry in every form: graffiti, blogs, literary magazines, readings in public squares. “In all of the misery and mess, new poetry is everywhere, too large and too various a body of writing to fit neatly on either side of any ideological rift.” She goes on to say that this anthology (mainly written after 2008) does more than witness hard lives being led in Greece now – it does what “poetry does best: offer new ways to imagine what can be radically different realities”.Continue reading...
This technically ambitious poem may suggest a variety of readings, but it gives vivid, singular life to its subject
My most cherished photographs
transformed overnight into those of dogs:
big horny dogs in their ripest years
hogging the frame for themselves.
The 80-year-old writer is facing accusations of racism (at worst) and tone-deafness (at best) over his poem about Chinese food in the New Yorker
It hasn’t been a good week for America’s octogenarian literary icons.
Hard on the heels of legendary journalist Gay Talese’s much-critiqued failure to name a single inspirational female writer, 80-year-old writer Calvin Trillin is facing accusations of racism (at worst) and tone-deafness (at best) over his poem about Chinese food in the latest issue of the New Yorker.
@MrsTomSauter The meter is TERRIBLE. If you're going to write doggerel at least make it rhythmically consistent.
“This longing for a time of chow mein – which is, as I’m sure the food writer knows – a westernized dish – is a longing for the days of a white planet. Those days when we white people comfortably held power, when they made food for us, when the only fear was the fear of another cuisine to conquer, the days before we had to ask ourselves stuff like – does this poem rest on an unexamined racist sentiment?”
don't say, "it's self-aware parody!" just say: "I accept this has no value except as an example of failure." truth + precision are best :DContinue reading...
In 1913, poet Edward Thomas cycled from London to Somerset to “meet the spring”. The vivid account of his journey, In Pursuit of Spring, was published the following year. Thomas died on the western front in 1917.
More than 100 years later, his nature classic is being republished by Little Toller, with previously unseen photographs of his journey offering us a glimpse of England before the first world war.
Adrian Sherratt travelled to the locations of these pictures to photograph what they look like today. Click on the blue buttons to see the difference
“On the journey from London to Somerset that became In Pursuit of Spring,Edward Thomas took many photographs of the churches, farmyards, cottages, lanes, fields and hedgerows he passed along the way,” writes Alexandra Harris in the foreword to the republished edition. “Published in a book for the first time, these images enrich the original text by offering us a glimpse of England before the first world war and give us rare insight into what drew the poet’s eye as he wandered the byways and highways westward.
“The photographs are part of a larger Edward Thomas collection looked after by the Special Collections and Archives team at Cardiff University, having been donated to the university by the Thomas family in the 1970s.Continue reading...
Tempest’s angst-ridden visions of London life are inspirational, but there are times when her storytelling fails to convince
‘Everywhere is monsters,” roars the beginning of Kate Tempest’s Mercury-nominated album Everybody Down, “Tits out / Wet-mouthed / Heads back / Shouting and roaring / Just to prove they exist”. There she was conjuring a south-east London she has now re‑versioned – or re-visioned – for her first novel. Song titles – “Marshall Law”, “Lonely Daze”, “To the Victor the Spoils” – become chapter headings, and many of the protagonists recur in identical scenarios and dilemmas. For those who wonder at this artistic choice – why not come up with an entirely new story? Why recycle? – a clue lies in Tempest’s affection for populous NYC hip-hop group the Wu-Tang Clan, whose members operate under multiple monikers and aliases, spinning stories across media and genres; the basic point of all this is not to find a form and snuggle down for the long haul, but to stretch the boundaries of genre until you see where it breaks.
This is all very well, as long as it works – when it doesn’t, it leads to something iffy, straining against the edges of a box it doesn’t fit. When Tempest’s angst-ridden lyricism is let off the leash, the effect is thrilling, unspoiled even by its melodrama and occasional mawkishness. Her lonely protagonists, weaving their way in and out of unloved cityscapes in search of they know not what, come to seem both painfully particular and impressively archetypal. As these moments shine, the mundane details that run through them also attain a kind of lustre, and a terrible, bathetic poignancy. But when that poetry is absent the dreary business of narrative – the traffic of moving people around, their condensed backstories, of which there are several that might happily have disappeared from the manuscript – comes to grief.Continue reading...
For years gay people were tolerated in the arts – and were then accused of taking over. Gregory Woods traces the networks of writers, artists, intellectuals and film stars who transformed 20th-century culture
Last week, the poet laureate joined the three judges of the Ted Hughes award to hand this year’s winner a cheque for £5,000. They then posed together for photographs: Ali Smith, Jackie Kay, Andrew McMillan, along with Carol Ann Duffy herself, who funds the prize. As someone with more than a passing interest in lesbian and gay culture, my attention was drawn to the potential for bias in this cheerful scene … But hang on a moment, something was not quite right. They had given the money to David Morley, a straight man.
What kind of racket did they think they were running? How could this decision possibly benefit the international gay conspiracy that has been so flagrantly running the arts for so long? Why, they might just as well have been straight themselves! And so, just when you thought the Twittersphere might be about to explode with homophobic abuse about misplaced special interests, there was nothing to complain about.Continue reading...
Guardian journalist Luke Harding and filmmaker Peter Pomerantsev discuss the assassination of Aleksander Litvinenko, and Masha Aloykhina of Pussy Riot shares the poetry that helped her survive prison
In the week that Vladimir Putin became embroiled in the international “Panama Papers” tax haven scandal, we peer into the dark heart of Russia. Guardian journalist Luke Harding and author and filmmaker Peter Pomerantsev discuss one of the most disturbing episodes of post cold war history - the assassination of dissident Aleksander Litvinenko in London with what Harding describes, in the title of his new book, as “a very expensive poison”.
The surrealism of the murder comes as no surprise to Pomerantsev, whose own first book, Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, is an investigation of the eye-popping self-delusion of what he describes as a kleptocratic society. Plus, we meet one of the women brave enough to stand up to it: Masha Aloykhina of the feminist collective Pussy Riot, who was jailed for two years along with her fellow members for performing a punk prayer in Moscow Cathedral, and who tells us about the literature that helped her to survive.Continue reading...
Patrick Deeley grew up in a large, close, gregarious family who could talk about everything … except their feelings
The phone line crackled. My sense of someone there faded, returned. I still had to get used to the delay. I knew it was my mother. Seventy seven years old at this time – mid-July 2003 – she had recently had a stroke. But because today was my 50th birthday, she would be less inclined than ever to let the stroke or her other health problems prevent her from making the call.
A clunking noise. She was stooping to place the phone on the table between the two kitchen windows before leaning her hands on the table. A flurry of creaks, scrapes and rustles. She was edging into her chair, making herself comfortable as best she could before speaking. Quietly then, out of the welling silence, she said, “I love you.”Continue reading...
The influential Anglo-German poet, critic and translator on how he came to be depicted as a lit‑crit Johnny Fartpants
The savagery with which Michael Hofmann can wield a hatchet has earned him unlikely fans outside the literary circuit. A recent issue of Viz ran a cartoon of the critic, poet and translator urinating all over a phone booth, while two donnish FR Leavis types nodded appreciatively from a safe distance. Coming from a publication with a proud track record of showing disrespect to the great and good, it felt like an exaltation of sorts.
The review referenced was one of the 58-year-old’s trademark masterclasses in literary evisceration: a forensic demolition job on Richard Flanagan’s The Narrow Road to the Deep North in the London Review of Books, in which Hofmann had described the 2014 Man Booker winner as “ingratiating”, “gassy” and “lacking the basic dignity of prose”.
There is so much excessive praise in the books world. If you cut things down to scale, you do something good
Related: Michael Hofmann Q&A – as it happenedContinue reading...
In his introduction and previously unpublished poem, the former poet laureate recalls how Peter Way, who died last month, nurtured his love of literature
I’ve yet to meet the writer who didn’t have an inspirational English teacher. Mine was Peter Way: Mr Way for five school years, then Peter for the next 40-odd. Our classroom paths first crossed when he began teaching me English at A-level in 1967. At that stage I had no great interest in literature (no one in my family had much time for books), and no expectation of going to university (no one in my father’s family had ever been); two years later, reading was at the centre of my life. This was his gift to me – and he gave it without ostentation, always speaking modestly and carefully, in such a way as to make poetry (in particular) seem an endlessly ingenious thing, but also as natural to the species as breathing. He lent me books from his own library, encouraged me to write my first poems, helped me to prepare for my university entrance and afterwards managed the transition from teacher/pupil to close friend/close friend. It’s no exaggeration to say that in certain ways he gave me my life – as I’ve also said in the poem that follows, which I wrote the day after his death on 30 March.Continue reading...
This raw, tender, unguarded collection transcends politics, reflecting Heaney’s desire to move ‘like a double agent among the big concepts’
Alongside his friend Ted Hughes (No 4 in this series), Seamus Heaney was among the finest late-20th century poets writing in the English language. Heaney’s greatness was cultural as well as lyrical: he saw it as his inescapable duty to attempt a mood of reconciliation among his community. His work, rooted in his native Ireland, always had to navigate the murderous vicissitudes of the Troubles, the civil war that traumatised Northern Ireland for 30 terrible years, from the civil rights march of October 1968 to the Good Friday agreement of April 1998.
To be a writer, especially a famous poet, in this war zone was to confront a challenge that was political, artistic and tribal. Both Heaney’s parents came from Roman Catholic families in Protestant Ulster. Throughout his life, his origins placed him at the lethal crossroads of sectarian conflict and Irish nationalism. That was an unenviable and dangerous location at the best of times, and he learned to become highly attuned to the history and heritage of oppression. He always contrived to move, as he put it, “like a double agent among the big concepts”.
Whatever his deepest feelings, Heaney is never strident. Throughout this volume there’s a steady undertow of irony
He linked the darkness of his own times to memories of English and Scandinavian invasions from the pastContinue reading...
With its message of entreaty to a young man to marry and become a father, this sonnet could be read as a covert love letter or the writer merely playing a role
O! that you were your self; but, love, you are
No longer yours, than you your self here live:
Against this coming end you should prepare,
And your sweet semblance to some other give:
So should that beauty which you hold in lease
Find no determination; then you were
Yourself again, after yourself’s decease,
When your sweet issue your sweet form should bear.
Who lets so fair a house fall to decay,
Which husbandry in honour might uphold,
Against the stormy gusts of winter’s day
And barren rage of death’s eternal cold?
O! none but unthrifts. Dear my love, you know,
You had a father: let your son say so.
Shakespeare, Donne and Jonson are all represented in this punchy and sinuous anthology, chosen by Stoner author John Williams
The American author and academic John Williams wrote three acclaimed novels (he let his first be quietly forgotten): one set in the wild west (Butcher’s Crossing), one on the campus of a Midwestern university (Stoner, recently republished to great acclaim) and one (Augustus) about the life of the Roman emperor. That’s a wide spread, as far as subject matter goes; the fact that he also published this selection of English Renaissance poetry further demonstrates his capacity for making different eras vivid to us.
This anthology first came out in 1963, and, as Robert Pinsky says in his introduction, it soon becomes clear that it is a writer’s book, as opposed to an academic’s. The subtitle may be somewhat dry – A Collection of Shorter Poems from Skelton to Jonson– though the poems themselves are anything but. This is a labour of love, not an exercise in scholarship and canon-building.Continue reading...
Actors Helen McCrory and Damian Lewis read extracts from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein at the Keats-Shelley Prize 2016 in London, marking 200 years since the novel’s inception. Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1816 and it is now regarded as one of the key gothic novels of the romantic period. Riona Millar, 16, won first prize in the young Romantic award for her poem on the theme of ‘After Frankenstein’Continue reading...
Seven winners share £4,000 for works inspired by Frankenstein as the award marks 200 years since the novel’s inception
The winners of the Keats-Shelley prize for essays and poems have been announced at a ceremony that saw Damian Lewis and Helen McCory perform a reimagining of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
The Homeland actor, who is hotly tipped to be the next James Bond, said it was still important to celebrate the influence of Mary Shelley – but admitted his own poetry writing skills were lacking.Continue reading...