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Unseen Sylvia Plath poems deciphered in carbon paper

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Duplicating sheet in old notebook examined by academics yields two unknown works, To a Refractory Santa Claus and Megrims

A carbon paper hidden in the back of an old notebook owned by Sylvia Plath has revealed two previously unknown poems by The Bell Jar author. The paper, which was discovered by scholars working on a new book, has lain undiscovered for 50 years and offers a tantalising glimpse of how the poet worked with her then husband, fellow poet Ted Hughes.

The academics, Gail Crowther and Peter K Steinberg, have also found a clutch of poems abandoned by Hughes that reveal the depth of his turmoil over his wife’s death. The poems had been written for his final collection, Birthday Letters, in which he broke his silence about his tumultuous relationship with Plath, which ended after she discovered he was having an affair.

Related: Sylvia Plath, a voice that can’t be silenced | Sarah Churchwell

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We are Leeds: slam poet Zodwa Nyoni's shout-out to Yorkshire's young voices

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The Zimbabwe-born writer found her passion for words as a teenager in Yorkshire. Her new play, Ode to Leeds, explores its in-your-face poetry scene

Home is a complicated idea. The Yorkshire-based poet and playwright Zodwa Nyoni knows that better than many. Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Leeds, she spent her childhood between different countries and cultures. As she celebrates her adopted city in a new play, Ode to Leeds, Nyoni is reflecting on what home really means.

“It’s about time,” she suggests, “the amount of time you spend in a place.” Nyoni was four when her family moved to Leeds in 1992 for her father to do his master’s at the university there. She started school in the city and put down roots, before going back to Zimbabwe three years later. There, she says, she felt like the odd one out. “The kids pick it up so quickly and they’re like ‘you’re the different thing’. But then your parents are telling you this is home.”

Related: Leeds ranked fifth on Lonely Planet's Best In Europe 2017 list

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Tony Walsh’s poem found words where there are no words | Jeanette Winterson

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The poet’s appearance at the vigil for the Manchester bombing victims helped us face up to the tragedy

Tony Walsh’s poem, “This Is The Place”, rapped out by him in fierce lines at Tuesday’s vigil in Manchester, did what public poetry should do – found words where there are no words. We say, “I don’t know what to say.” We say we’re lost for words. Words have lost us. The poem gives us back the words we need.

The bombing was a public event, as well as a heartbreaking series of private losses. At times like this we need to come together to express our collective despair and bewilderment: Manchester as a city; Manchester as proud northerners; Manchester facing the world, but facing the world in tears.

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The Saturday poem: Dear Felix

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by Jackie Kay

Here you are Felix, looking into the future
You never got to have,
Your mum smiling at your side,
Your dark brown eyes, warm, kind.

Here you are again, Felix,
Coming into empty rooms,
Filling them with light,
Walking across the fields in the early light,

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From social media star to bestselling writer, the young ‘Instapoet’

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Rupi Kaur’s first book, Milk and Honey, sold 1.4 million copies. Here, she tells how Instagram helped her find her young, female audience

Ordinarily, the illustration adorning the cover of a new book is not a big story, but such is the hype around the young Canadian poet Rupi Kaur that her plan to release the picture to her 1.3 million Instagram followers on 1 June is generating great excitement.

Kaur, 24, came from nowhere to sell 1.4 million copies of her first book, Milk and Honey. That is almost unheard of for a first-time writer, let alone a first-time poet. First self-published in 2014 and then by a publishing house the following year, the poetry collection became a New York Times bestseller. Now Kaur is building up anticipation on social media for her new anthology, which is due out in September. And here, the Observer publishes an exclusive extract.

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Poem of the week: It Will Make a Fine Hospital by Andrew Dimitri

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Drawing on firsthand experience of war zones, Dimitri laconically balances awareness of their appalling damage with hope for the future

It Will Make a Fine Hospital
(from Winter in Northern Iraq)

I had overestimated
the size of the square
in the middle of town
by quite a lot.
But it was still big,
more than big enough
for a hospital.
Two operating theatres,
one of them in a truck!
an emergency room
and maybe eighty beds?

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'What a hole': Hull has embraced Philip Larkin – but did the love go both ways?

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Hull continues to put Larkin on a pedestal during its year as City of Culture even though the poet called the city a fish-smelling ‘dump’. Is Larkinmania misplaced?

Statues in stations were once all grim-faced Victorians and war memorials. Not any more. Today’s railway monuments are dioramas of civic identity, an opportunity for heritage-savvy towns and cities to claim their local heroes. Huddersfield has Harold Wilson; Liverpool, Ken Dodd. Southend’s got a skateboarder, and Paddington has its dopey bear.

In Hull, it is Philip Larkin who we have put on a pedestal. At first sight, the poet, all 7ft of him, seems the perfect choice. Martin Jennings’ sculpture at Paragon Station was inspired by the late leaving protagonist of Larkin’s poem the Whitsun Weddings. It was in Hull that Larkin lived and worked for 30 years and wrote most of his best work – so why wouldn’t a grateful city commemorate him? Well, it’s not quite that simple.

I’m settling down in Hull all right. Every day I sink a little further

I think Larkin was lucky to have Hull and Hull was lucky to have him

Related: London 0, Hull plenty: how is life in England's only 'affordable city'?

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Michael Longley wins PEN Pinter prize for 'unflinching, unswerving' poetry

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Northern Irish writer praised by judges for his ‘fierce intellectual determination’ wins annual award in memory of the late Nobel laureate

Belfast poet Michael Longley, whom Seamus Heaney described as “a custodian of griefs and wonders”, has been awarded the 2017 PEN Pinter prize. The prize has a personal resonance for the poet, who is one of the most significant figures in Irish poetry. Not only is he an admirer of Harold Pinter, after whom the award was named, but the playwright had spurred him on as a young poet.

The prize is awarded annually to a British, Irish or Commonwealth writer of outstanding literary merit whose work embodies the words of Pinter’s Nobel laureate speech by casting an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze upon the world and showing a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”.

Related: Margaret Atwood selects Tutul for Pen writer of courage award

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Sand in the Sandwiches review – Edward Fox's Betjeman is tediously tasteful

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Theatre Royal Haymarket, London
Hugh Whitemore’s witty but dull homage to the quintessentially English poet lacks the cleverness and drama of his Stevie Smith play

“Arbitrary and irrelevant” was the Manchester Guardian’s view on John Betjeman, whose crisp verse detailed a vanishing England of buttered toast, country churches and suburban tennis clubs, when he was appointed poet laureate in 1972. You might say the same about this one-man show by Hugh Whitemore, performed by Edward Fox.

Related: Edward Fox: ‘I cry all the time. I like crying’

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Manchester poet Tony Walsh: ‘I’ve shed more than a few tears this week’

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He helped Manchester cope with its grief after the bombing with an electrifying performance. Now a national hero, he talks about surviving poverty, his punk roots and escaping the day job

Tony Walsh took to the stage in front of thousands of people gathered in Manchester’s Albert Square, the evening after the terror attack in the city that killed 22 people. He came on, adjusted the microphone to his height and, for just over five minutes, his performance of his poem This Is the Place took the crowd from intense silence to laughter to an eruption of cheering that almost drowned out his final words: “Choose love.”

It was what the city – and the rest of us – needed if you go by the hundreds of thousands of views the video has received. It wasn’t the solemn, commemorative verse we have become used to hearing at sombre public occasions. It was swaggering, raucous, warm, defiant: a love poem to Manchester. Liam Gallagher said it was “the best thing I’ve ever heard come out of any Mancunian’s mouth, ever”.

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The Saturday poem: Seventy by David Hare

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by David Hare. An exclusive poem to mark his 70th birthday

Three score and ten is it, says Jahweh
Three score and ten is all you’re allowed
After three score and ten you’re finished
Whoever you are, humble or proud

Don’t waste your breath asking for longer
Man was allotted seventy from when he began
Complain all you like, forget it, it’s official
Take it from Jahweh – seventy’s man’s natural span

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From Sgt Pepper to the sublime: in praise of Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral at 50

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Its opening coincided with the release of the Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album and the publication of the poetry anthology The Mersey Sound. Half a century on, the famous wigwam continues to inspire

I see it every day, straight ahead, as I drive down Hope Street in Liverpool on the way to work. A ring of flying buttresses, like a tent’s guy wires, soars towards a central cone and a glass lantern tower topped with a crown of thorns. Medieval cathedrals were meant to stop the breath, to astound pilgrims and worshippers by defying gravity, human scale and other earthbound limitations. This younger version looks similarly unlikely: an upturned funnel of Catholic chutzpah. One might call its architectural style “Liverpool contrarian”. How odd that people can walk past it without even looking up.

Fifty years ago, at Whitsun, Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral was opened and consecrated. In 1967 many of the city’s buildings were scarred by bombs, marked for the wrecking ball or covered in soot. And here was this proudly modern structure, rising up out of a town of blackened stone. The architect Michael Manser likened it to “a gargantuan concrete aberration from the Apollo space programme”. Locals nicknamed it the Mersey Funnel or the Wigwam.

The architect was doodling on an envelope, the idea came in a rush. Simple: a shell, like a tent, raised above an altar

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Field Day review – the Aphex Twin's live comeback raises the temperature

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Victoria Park, London
The one-day festival has a gigantic new Barn stage, suitably filled by Richard D James’s spine-tingling live return, supported by an eclectic lineup of pop, rap and dance for every taste under the sun

A fixture in east London’s Victoria Park for a decade, Field Day has in many ways reached that optimal festival state of commanding a large and loyal audience on strength of reputation as much as the individual artists it books each year. Intuitively curated with playlist-shuffle eclecticism over a single Saturday, typically the 2017 lineup feels like one that fans of a whole span of ages and tastes could navigate to their satisfaction. Youthful bookings abound, from guitar acts like Methyl Ethel and Julia Jacklin to trap producer Mura Masa, and yet it’s also a clutch of names who enjoyed their breakouts in the 90s and before – in particular Aphex Twin making a long-awaited UK live return in epic surrounds – that help push the mercury higher on a blazing hot June day.

A man whom you can be sure would be sporting sunglasses even if performing on a dark winter night, sexagenarian Mancunian punk performance poet Dr John Cooper Clarke is old enough to be a grandad to much of the Field Day crowd, and yet his slanted and funny wordplay (“I eat a third of a Mars Bar every day – to help me rest”) feels somehow still apt to the occasion. Leafing his way through a sheaf of pieces about love, ageing and boredom, the deliciously sweary Evidently Chickentown included, he’s on fine form, even if trying to discern his rapid torrent of thickly accented words can sometimes feel a bit like listening to a cattle auctioneer.

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Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore review – a voyage around the imagination

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The writer’s latest collection takes in everything from mortality and ageing to the music of the sea

The wave in this humane and visionary collection symbolises the flow of time and tide around and over individual lives. Dunmore’s cancer diagnosis is in the background, combined with the turbulence of mortality everyone experiences as they grow older. But these waves carry many stories and journeys. Five sharp little translations from the Roman poet Catullus include a wonderfully succinct version of Ave Atque Vale. In the title poem, the subject is the homecoming of the “dirty old mariner” Odysseus. After a reunion with a balding, ageing, self-absorbed wife (the offstage carnage evoked by the image of a fountain pulsing out blood), he returns to lengthy sea-gazing. “At the lip of the wave, foam/ Stuttered and broke,” he observes, as if witnessing his own dissolution. “It was on the inside/ Of the wave he chose/ To meditate endlessly/ Without words or song,/ And so he lay down/ To watch it at eye-level,/ About to topple/ About to be whole.”

Lying down and watching the world at eye level constitutes much of what poets and novelists do and Dunmore’s work in both genres is always alive with sensuous detail. Here, we’re shown in vivid close-up the beaches, boating lakes, swimming pools of everyday navigation, as well as the mythic oceans. In At the Spit, we learn the sounds the contemporary wanderer, resting against his or her backpack, will hear on the beach: “… the click/ And tumble of pebbles, slumbrous/ Geography shifting: this is the land mass/ And this the plastic, the wrack, the mess/ To pick over in search of a home.” Assonance and alliteration fill the soundtrack and remind us that Dunmore has a fine ear as well as eye and knows how to persuade the stanza, rhymed or unrhymed, to make appropriate music.

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

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A political poem that contests the damaging gendering of nations is also, in the hands of a ‘weird Twitter’ star, a deliciously transgressive romp

Is Your Country a He Or a She in Your Mouth

Mine is a man I think, I love men, they call me
a fatherlandsexual, all the motherlandsexuals
have been sailed away, and there were never
any here in the first place, they tell us. Myself
I have never seen a mountain, myself I have
never seen a valley, especially not my own,
I am afraid of the people who live there,
who eat hawk and wild rice from my pelvic
bone. Oh no, I am fourteen, I have walked
into my motherland’s bedroom, her body
is indistinguishable from the fatherland
who is ‘loving her’ from behind, so close
their borders match up, except for a notable
Area belonging to the fatherland. I am drawn
to the motherland’s lurid sunsets, I am reaching
my fingers to warm them, the people in my
valley are scooping hawk like crazy, I can no
longer tell which country is which, salt air off
both their coasts, so gross, where is a good nice gulp
of Midwestern pre-tornado? The tornado above me
has sucked up a Cow, the motherland declares,
the tornado above him has sucked up a Bull,
she says pointing to the fatherland. But the cow
is clearly a single cow, chewing a single cud
of country, chewing their countries into one,
and ‘I hate these country!’ I scream, and
their eyes shine with rain and fog, because
at last I am using the accent of the homeland,
at last I am a homelandsexual and I will never
go away from them, there will one day be two
of you too they say, but I am boarding myself
already, I recede from their coasts like a Superferry
packed stem to stern with citizens, all waving hellos
and goodbyes, and at night all my people go below
and gorge themselves with hunks of hawk,
the traditional dish of the new floating heartland. *

Related: Patricia Lockwood: ‘I’m a show-off, a clown’

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Poet and author Helen Dunmore dies aged 64

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The Orange prize winning author of 12 novels and 10 poetry collections has died, not long after revealing her cancer diagnosis

Poet and novelist Helen Dunmore, who only recently revealed that she had been diagnosed with cancer, has died at the age of 64.

The author of 12 novels, including Orange prize winner A Spell of Winter, as well as 10 poetry collections, Dunmore revealed her diagnosis in March, as well as her pragmatic attitude towards death.

Related: Helen Dunmore: facing mortality and what we leave behind

Related: Helen Dunmore obituary

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Helen Dunmore obituary

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Poet and novelist with a flair for reinvention and making history human

The writer Helen Dunmore, who has died aged 64 of cancer, seldom made herself her subject. The author of 12 novels, three books of short stories, numerous books for young adults and children and 11 collections of poetry, she was remarkable in that, although she made an impression from the start, her career evolved in unexpected ways.

As she grew older, she knew what to shed, how to travel light, how to pursue questions that occupied her single-mindedly – as if sweeping a room clear of dust. In her 20s, she had written a couple of unpublished autobiographical novels and would imply that these belonged in the bottom drawer – mere staging posts on the road to becoming a novelist, a way of getting herself out of the picture.

Related: Helen Dunmore: my moment of inspiration on the operating table

Related: Helen Dunmore: facing mortality and what we leave behind

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Helen Dunmore's family reveal poem written in the author's last days

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Hold out your arms, written shortly before the author died, has been released by her family and is reproduced below

A poem written by Helen Dunmore in the final days of her life, which “glows with clear-eyed calm” in the face of death has been revealed by her publishers, a day after the 64-year-old writer died.

Hold out your arms was written on 25 May, and shows Dunmore facing the terminal stage of cancer with courage, resignation and calm. Poet Ruth Padel said: “This last poem, quietly sensual and subtle at the same time, luminous and utterly gentle, glows with clear-eyed calm and breathes secure love for her family for nature.”

Related: Helen Dunmore obituary

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Denis Johnson obituary

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Award-winning American novelist, poet and screenwriter who wrote about fallen angels living in a fallen world

In novels, stories, plays and poems, Denis Johnson, who has died of liver cancer aged 67, wrote about characters best described as fallen angels. Life beset them with problems and they responded by taking to drugs or crime, or going on the road, each effort to cope creating new dilemmas. His best known work, Jesus’ Son (1992), is a short-story collection linked by its narrator, known only by the name others call him, Fuckhead. Bill Houston, the protagonist who is executed in Angels (1983), his first novel, reappears as his younger self in Johnson’s most successful novel, the sprawling Vietnam tale Tree of Smoke (2007), which won the US National Book award.

“What I write about,” Johnson said, “is the dilemma of living in a fallen world, and asking why it is like this if there’s supposed to be a god.”

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Gerard Manley Hopkins: the poet priest who deserves a place in the gay canon

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Wrestling with his desires while committed to Jesuit celibacy left poetry as the only outlet for Hopkins’s sexuality, which rings with pent-up passion

Fun literary fact: when a Jesuit priest called Father Gerard Hopkins wrote a long, experimental poem about a shipwreck in the Thames estuary in 1876, he sent it to his order’s journal the Month, which he thought might publish it. He was wrong about that. However, in the very edition where he had hoped to see his own work, there was a short poem by a young Oxford student identified only as OFO’FWW. Trivia buffs will know those initials: this was the young Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde’s first published work.

It feels like a historical oddity because the pair are otherwise so incongruous: Gerard Manley Hopkins, as we now call him, was small, pious and serious, living a life of obedience in the strictest of the Catholic orders after his conversion to the faith. Wilde was by contrast large, debauched and flippant, dazzling the smartest salons and heading for a terrible fall. That they nearly rubbed pages in a Jesuit journal was probably as close as they were ever going to come.

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

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