Quantcast
Channel: Poetry | The Guardian
Mark channel Not-Safe-For-Work? cancel confirm NSFW Votes: (0 votes)
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel.
0

Lemn Sissay and Befeqadu Hailu share 2019 PEN Pinter prize

0
0

British poet Sissay names persecuted Ethiopian writer and activist as this year’s ‘international writer of courage’

The poet Lemn Sissay has won the PEN Pinter award alongside the Ethiopian writer Befeqadu Hailu, who dedicated his award “to all those who use their voices for the voiceless”.

Hailu, a writer, activist and co-founder of the blogging platform Zone 9, has been jailed four times for his work, although never convicted of the charges brought against him. Under the motto “we blog because we care”, Zone 9 sets out to create a space for freedom of expression, where individuals can speak out against human rights violations in Ethiopia.

Continue reading...

Poem of the month: The Poet

0
0

I am beginning to write in our language,
but it is difficult.

Only the elders speak our words,
and they are forgetting.

Continue reading...

Time Lived, Without Its Flow by Denise Riley review – stunning clarity

0
0
A precise examination of parental grief and a rich Selected Poems from the poet philosopher

In 2008, the poet and philosopher Denise Riley’s adult son Jacob died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart problem while on holiday. Four years later, she published two new works: a poem about Jacob’s death, “A Part Song”, which won a Forward prize, and the essay “Time Lived, Without Its Flowin a micro-press edition that was shared reader to reader like a samizdat pamphlet, and is now made widely available in this new edition, introduced by Max Porter.

Riley drops the reader into the thick of life after death. She begins: “I’ll not be writing about death, but an altered condition of life.” This straight-speaking clarity runs throughout, and helps the reader navigate Riley’s complex thinking on what Alice Oswald called “the being of grief and not the feeling of grief”. It is not a memoir: we learn only the barest of details about her son’s death.

A child’s time is 'quietly uncoiling inside your own', so when the child’s life stops, 'the purely cognitive violence of it' freezes the parent’s time, too

Related: Say Something Back by Denise Riley review – exquisite, intimate, direct

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: Sonnets from Idea's Mirror by Michael Drayton

0
0

These Jacobean verses pay courtly tribute to the poet’s muse – and let rip on his critics

31: To the Critic
Methinks I see some crooked mimic jeer,
And tax my Muse with this fantastic grace,
Turning my papers asks, What have we here?
Making withal some filthy antic face.
I fear no censure, nor what thou canst say,
Nor shall my spirit one jot of vigour lose;
Think’st thou my wit shall keep the pack-horse way
That every dudgen low invention goes?
Since sonnets thus in bundles are imprest
And every drudge doth dull our satiate ear,
Think’st thou my love shall in those rags be drest,
That every dowdy, every trull, doth wear?
Up to my pitch no common judgement flies;
I scorn all earthly dung-bred scarabies.

39
Some, when in rhyme they of their loves do tell,
With flames and lightnings their exordiums paint,
Some call on Heaven, some invocate on Hell,
And Fates and Furies with their woes acquaint.
Elysium is too high a seat for me;
I will not come in Styx or Phlegethon;
The thrice-three Muses but too wanton be,
Like they that lust, I care not, I will none.
Spiteful Erinnys frights me with her looks,
My manhood dares not with foul Ate mell,
I quake to look on Hecate’s charming books,
I still fear bugbears in Apollo’s cell.
I pass not for Minerva nor Astraea,
Only I call on my divine Idea.

Continue reading...

John Giorno – the New York radical who broke art and poetry's boundaries

0
0

Whether sleeping in a five-hour Warhol film, putting poetry over the phone or experimenting with augmented reality, the artist, who has died aged 82, refused to be confined by convention

‘What do telephones, poetry and the Museum of Modern Art have in common?” read a press release issued by the New York institution on 21 July 1970. A question to which they might have added gay liberation, Aids activism, the aesthetics of advertising, Tibetan Buddhism and sleeping for Andy Warhol, and still received the answer of John Giorno. The artist and poet, who died on Friday aged 82, was the linchpin of New York’s downtown scene.

The list of his collaborators, friends and lovers, many of whom made their work at the Bunker, the studio complex Giorno established on the Bowery, which the New York Times described in 1965 as “a vision of Montparnasse replacing Skid Row”, is as numerous: John Cage, Anne Waldman, Mark Rothko, Lynda Benglis, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Trisha Brown and Carolee Schneeman were all contemporaries. In 1963 he appeared in Warhol’s film Sleep, which lasted five hours and 20 minutes and consisted of a static shot of Giorno asleep.

Continue reading...

Harold Bloom obituary

0
0

American literary critic and author who delighted in overturning orthodoxies

“Criticism,” observed the literary critic Harold Bloom, who has died aged 89, “starts (it has to start) with a real passion for reading.” Blessed with extraordinary gusto as a reader, Bloom claimed to have read everything. He could quote the classics of English and American poetry by heart. He forgot nothing, and retained his passionate love for literature and belief in its supreme value through dark decades in which “literary theory” – a term he scorned – threatened to displace the study of literature in US higher education.

Bloom’s reputation was made as a forceful and innovative reader of Romantic poetry. Shelley’s Mythmaking (1959) and The Visionary Company: A Reading of English Romantic Poetry (1961) were written at a time when academic opinion about Romanticism was emerging from the shadow of TS Eliot. Bloom emancipated himself from Eliot while an undergraduate at Cornell University, New York, through a reading of Northrop Frye’s study of Blake, Fearful Symmetry.

Continue reading...

TS Eliot prize unveils shortlist of 'fearless poets'

0
0

Nominees for the £25,000 prize include Jay Bernard, Sharon Olds and Anthony Anaxagorou

Jay Bernard’s Surge, an exploration of the 1981 New Cross fire in south London that killed 13 young black people, is one of 10 collections shortlisted for the prestigious TS Eliot prize for poetry.

Surge has already won the Ted Hughes prize, and is also up for the 2019 Forward prize for best first collection, to be decided next week. Bernard is nominated alongside former winner Sharon Olds, who was picked for Arias, a collection that considers a woman’s intimate life and political conscience, tackling subjects from the cervix to Trayvon Martin.

Continue reading...

Kathleen Jamie: 'Nature writing has been colonised by white men'

0
0

The genre’s current boom is dominated by middle-class males, she says, but the author of Surfacing prefers to concentrate on ‘deep time’

Kathleen Jamie recently spent “valuable minutes” of her life totting up all the books and authors who have been shortlisted for the prestigious Wainwright prize for British nature and travel writing. The tally is 26 books by men and 14 by women. For winners, the ratio is five men to one woman.

Jamie – a poet whose genre-stretching first book of essays, 2005’s Findings, was a much-praised widening of the growing field of nature writing – is aghast at the preponderance of male nature writers. “Only 15 years ago,” she says when I meet her in her home city of Edinburgh, “nature writing was barely there. It seems very strange that this thing that barely existed can suddenly ignite. I hate to say it, but it has been colonised – by middle-class white men. I’m interested in how that’s happened. And if you understand how that’s happened, you understand the whole godforsaken political state of this country.” The cafe table is being softly thumped.

Continue reading...

Bernardine Evaristo: 'These are unprecedented times for black female writers'

0
0

The first black woman to win the Booker prize argues that a revolution is sweeping through British publishing. But can it lead to lasting change?

Chidera Eggerue, AKA The Slumflower, is a social media star, south-east London homegirl and feminist. She first came to prominence in 2017 when she created the hashtag #SaggyBoobsMatter on Twitter in order to promote the body-positive message that women’s breasts and bodies are fine just as they are. It’s an important idea and antithetical to a beauty industry that berates us for our imperfections. A year later Eggerue published a self-help motivational book, What a Time to Be Alone: The Slumflower’s Guide to Why You Are Already Enough, which entered the Sunday Times bestseller list the week it was published in 2018, when she was 23. In her very pink, zanily illustrated book, Eggerue, a self-styled “guru, confidante and best friend” to her readers, offers advice on self-worth and self-acceptance. An earlier booklet called Little Black Book: A Toolkit for Working Women, by Otegha Uwagba, became a bestseller in 2016, paving the way for Eggerue. This, in turn, was probably influenced by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2014 essay We Should All Be Feminists.

These are unprecedented times for black female writers, in no small part due to the internet. It has reconfigured how we present ourselves to the world at large, as well as bringing previously marginalised social groups and writing to the fore in ways hitherto unimaginable. As a society we are beginning to recognise and take seriously the ills and pitfalls of social media, but it is still the most exciting channel of mass communication since history began.

Related: 'There’s nothing like this out there': A Quick Ting On launches young black authors

Like today's art activists, black female writers were doing it for themselves, rather than hoping to be cherry-picked by white Britain's cultural producers

Related: Booker winners Bernardine Evaristo and Margaret Atwood on breaking the rules

Continue reading...

'All the hood rats would jam with us': Grandmaster Flash, AJ Tracey and other artists on the generation gap

0
0

What difference does a decade or two make in the worlds of music, kids’ TV and poetry?

Grandmaster Flash – born Joseph Saddler on New Year’s Day, 1958 – is often credited as one of the pioneers of hip-hop, but his achievements are as much in the field of engineering as they are in music. It was Flash who invented the slipmat that allowed records to be manipulated by DJs; who used solder and Super Glue to give decks a separate headphone channel, so they could hear the record they were cueing up; and who invented the “quick-mix theory”, allowing small portions of tracks to be looped. Those innovations formed the basis of modern DJing.

My mother was a pirate radio DJ. Being a white Welsh woman spinning hip-hop was unheard of

The big-time drug dealers would come to the park with us and buy 300 bottles of pop and bags of crisps for the audience

I've always had an office of people whose job it was to find something to do. On Blue Peter, 75% was viewer-suggested

I would never put something in my videos that I wouldn’t say to my mum

On social media, we can’t hide from the fact that a lot of things are very self-centred

It seemed to put people off when poetry was taught in schools. It’s exciting that social media poetry has changed that

Continue reading...

Harold Bloom’s defence of western greats blinded him to other cultures | Kenan Malik

0
0

The critic, who died last week, polarised opinion

There are good ways of being old-fashioned and there are bad. One may seek to preserve important practices or ways of thinking in the face of fashion. One may also be blind to the ways in which tradition can work to protect certain forms of power or marginalise certain groups of people. The US literary critic, Harold Bloom, who died last week aged 89, was a classic example of someone old-fashioned in both ways.

One of the most influential critics of the past half-century, Bloom was also one of the most divisive. He railed against what he called “the school of resentment”, the “Feminists, Afrocentrists, Marxists, Foucault-inspired New Historicists, or Deconstructors” who were not interested in literature but only wanted to “advance their programs for social change”.

Continue reading...

Fiona Benson wins Forward prize with Greek myth poems for #MeToo age

0
0

Poems on grieving through Super Mario, ‘honour’ killings and sexual violence claim top awards

Fiona Benson’s second collection, Vertigo & Ghost, has won the prestigious £10,000 Forward prize for best poetry collection, seeing off competition from fellow TS Eliot prize-shortlisted poets Ilya Kaminsky and Vidyan Ravinthiran before that prize being announced in January next year.

Described as a collection that brings the violence of Greek myths into the #MeToo era, Vertigo & Ghost explores female fear, desire and ferocity, while rebranding the god Zeus as a serial rapist. Throughout the collection, Benson draws clear parallels between the events of Greek mythology and our own contemporary political moment: “I kept the dictaphone running / it recorded nothing / but my own voice / vulcanised and screaming / you won’t get away with this.

Related: Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson review – songs of shock and survival

Continue reading...

The history of the book, from Gilgamesh to now – books podcast

0
0

This week, Richard Lea sits down with Tom Mole, professor of English literature and book history at the University of Edinburgh and director of the Centre for the History of the Book. In his new work, The Secret Life of Books, Mole looks at books as physical objects and how the experience of reading has changed through time. Could modern technologies transform the ways we read our favourite stories? Can you claim to have read a book if you’ve only listened to the audio version of it?

We then explore the most ancient long poem known to exist, Gilgamesh, with the poet and publisher Michael Schmidt, whose latest book explores the history of its translation and publication.

Continue reading...

Forward prize winner Fiona Benson: ‘It’s still taboo to talk about rape and women’s bodies’

0
0

The poet, who wrote her winning collection in almost a single sitting, talks about motherhood, sexual violence and using poetry to process trauma

Fiona Benson’s second volume of poems, Vertigo & Ghost, which this week won the Forward prize for best collection, is so full of small, blindingly bright explosions that sometimes you almost drop the book. On the morning after winning the £10,000 prize, the author is suffering from a headache – brought on by adrenaline rather than alcohol – and is full of praise for her fellow shortlisted writers (there are Forward prizes for first collection and best poem, as well for best collection). These include Jay Bernard, Ilya Kaminsky, Raymond Antrobus and Holly Pester, “who read an amazing poem at the award ceremony, about an abortion – it was ragged and raw and beautiful”, she says. “Poetry is so rich and healthy and diverse at the moment.”

In person Benson is quietly spoken, often ending an answer to a question with an apology – “sorry for the feminist rant” – or by checking to make sure she’s been clear. She describes herself as a “private person” living in Devon with her husband and two daughters, but her poems, written “as if nobody is listening”, are exposing. They peel away at the layers of the female body and examine, tenderly yet unflinchingly, its murky chambers. There’s a poem about the “ridged outer labyrinth”, the “intimate, violet latch” of the narrator’s placenta; another called “Ruins”, which describes the worn landscape of a post-partum body, its “inflamed trenches / and lost dominions”.

Related: Vertigo & Ghost by Fiona Benson review – songs of shock and survival

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on the healthy state of poetry: a reprimand to Trump and Johnson | Editorial

0
0
English-language poetry is in great health – and has much to tell us about our fragile, fraught times

In 2014, the chair of the judges of the Forward prizes for poetry, broadcaster Jeremy Paxman, said: “I think poetry has really rather connived at its own irrelevance … It seems to me very often that poets now seem to be talking to other poets and that is not talking to people as a whole.” It was only five years ago, but his complaint seems to have issued from another world.

The sealed edges of the poetry world have loosened recently. Some may look askance at poems shared on social media, seeing little of literary merit in the shareable sentiments that some “instapoets” convey, but audiences are also growing for spoken-word poetry, as the means of distribution is opened up by the internet. The contrast with so much current public debate is stark. As Rowan Williams has put it, at the end of another week of Boris Johnson’s and Donald Trump’s lazy abuse of the value of words, poetry’s “task of ‘turning noise into music’ is irreducibly political, a sustained resistance to commodified, generalised language and the appalling reductions of human possibility that this brings with it”.

Continue reading...

Ancient graves give up secrets on Halloween

0
0

Michael Rosen will give a poet’s take on prehistoric burial items, including the Folkton drums, at the British Museum

Three are chalk cylinders, buried with a six-year-old child. Four are shiny gold discs and one is an ancient bronze mirror. For thousands of years, they lay in the cold dark earth, their names forgotten, their meaning lost, waiting to be found.

Now, for the first time, they are being held up to the light, with three new poems by Michael Rosen that celebrate the spectacular prehistoric objects buried in Britain’s early graves.

Continue reading...

The Mizzy by Paul Farley review – soaring and stirring

0
0
This avian-themed collection – mixed with stories of hangovers and red carpets – is witty, insightful and fabulously bizarre

You can never predict how – or where – a Paul Farley poem is going to land. This hugely enjoyable collection The Mizzy (nickname for a mistle thrush) is, among other things, a birder’s book. The birds are scattered as in life – they alight between poems on other subjects. They have something of John Clare’s style or disarming lack of it (Farley was editor of a selection of Clare’s poems for Faber in 2007). Like Clare, Farley is comradely towards nature, his bird’s-eye view is respectful, his anthropomorphism not belittling.

But he has his own wit and singular insights. What the robin shows him as it hops ahead, he passes on, a plain expression of a good thought: “... showing us where the edge/ of the present moment is”.

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: Hanging out with musicians … by Tom Sastry

0
0

A conventional young man’s encounter with a countercultural hero is sweetly funny

He said fucking and that was important:
“We’re all fucking broken.”
He said it gently
like a priest, soothing the smart of sin.

Continue reading...

One language dies every two weeks. How can poetry help? – books podcast

0
0

On this week’s show, we look at endangered languages around the world and how poets and publishers are fighting to keep them alive. Sian sits down with Chris McCabe from the National Poetry Library, which has been asking the public to contribute to a database of endangered languages since 2017. The resulting anthology, Poems from the Edge of Extinction, features poems in languages from Assyrian to Zoque. Two poets in the collection – Valzhyna Mort, who writes in Belarusian, and Vaughan Rapatahana, who writes in Te Reo – talk about their efforts to spread awareness of their languages.

And Clive Boutle, who runs independent publisher Francis Boutle, comes into the studio to talk about his mission to preserve minority languages by publishing poetry in Livonian, Kernewek, Scottish Gaelic, Catalan, Frisian and many more.

Continue reading...

Dickinson review – Emily Dickinson reborn as a Lizzo-loving feminist

0
0

A half-baked comedy series rewrites the life of the American poet as a defiant feminist who ignores chores and delivers clunky dialogue

Emily Dickinson doesn’t seem like the historical figure most ripe for a feminist revision. The American poet, whose work was published almost entirely after her death, lived a pious life in a stable, publicly invested New England family, wrote mostly in private, and was a recluse for most of her adult life. Dickinson, one of four shows in the freshman class of originals for the Apple TV+ streaming service, launching 1 November, assumedly saw promise in the name brand of one of America’s most famous 19th-century female poets. It mines her life for the strict, defining details – child of a town-figure father (Toby Huss) and cold homemaker mother (an extremely miscast Jane Krakowski) in Amherst, Massachusetts; two siblings'; comfortable home – while shoehorning in the more inconveniently introspective, cerebral, of-her-time personality of the unheralded (in her lifetime) literary trail-blazer.

Related: See review – Jason Momoa guts people for fun in Apple TV+'s lethal, sensual saga

Dickinson begins on Apple TV+ on 1 November

Continue reading...