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Yes we scan: Poets line up for Jeremy Corbyn

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Michael Rosen, Pascale Petit, Nicholas Murray and Ian Pindar are showing their support for the Labour leadership candidate in verse, with a free ebook in support of his campaign

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy” (“Ye are many – they are few!”), written in reaction to the Peterloo massacre of 1819, is arguably the greatest political poem of all time. However, it was not published until 13 years after Peterloo and its most striking impact came almost a century later, in the New York protest marches led by Pauline Newman. The timeline for Labour’s current leadership election is rather tighter in comparison.

Publishing Poets for Corbyn was never intended as hagiography in rhyme, but rather as a collection of poems celebrating and supporting our chance to reaffirm Labour’s historical values. On Corbyn’s nomination, I invited some of my favourite left-leaning poets to contribute. A few of the more hard-line turned down the offer, seeing little hope in parliamentary democracy. But Michael Schmidt, general editor of PN Review and one of the contributors, put me in touch with a number of enthusiastic Corbynites. WN Herbert and Andy Jackson’s New Boots and Pantisocracies was an invaluable source, alongside Jody Porter’s Well Versed series in the Morning Star.

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