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Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri named young people's laureate for London

The 24-year-old poet, with a background in biochemistry, wants young people in the capital ‘to see poetry as part of their every day’ The 24-year-old Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri, who has been...

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Wade in the Water review – lost voices of the American underground

A long overdue collection from US poet laureate Tracy K Smith weaves a spiritual hymn to the nation’s forgotten peopleTracy K Smith is the poet laureate of the United States and a winner of the...

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How to read poetry like a professor

Thomas Foster, an ex-literature professor and author, explains how to get the most out of poems while avoiding intimidation Since retiring from his professorship at the University of Michigan-Flint,...

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Poem of the week: No Hands by Carol Muske-Dukes

Capturing the headlong descent of a cyclist – and his daughter – this anxious and moving poem almost gasps with fear No Hands He rode “no hands,” speedingheadlong down the hill nearour house, his arms...

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Linton Kwesi Johnson: ‘It was a myth that immigrants didn’t want to fit into...

As the Jamaican-born dub poet reflects on decades of race relations in the UK, from the Brixton riots to Windrush, he says young black men carry knives out of fear, and questions how much progress we...

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Lemn Sissay: ‘A childhood in care almost broke me – I needed to shine a light...

The writer has finally won redress from Wigan council for his mistreatment as a child. Now he hopes his story will inspire othersLemn Sissay has spent the past two years seeking redress from Wigan...

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Akala review – humility and harmony from history-making hip-hop poet

Shepherd’s Bush Empire, LondonAs he unpicks the marginalisation of black people, the rapper and cultural commentator seems to draw ever more strength from his own messages Rapper, musician and cultural...

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Poem of the week: The Quilt by Abigail Parry

A life’s trials, tribulations, lovers and lessons are stitched together in this week’s poem The quilt’s a ragtag syzygyof everything I’ve been or done,a knotted spell in every seam,the stuff that...

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Love, Labour and 80s indie: the personal gets political for Luke Wright

Delivered entirely in verse, Wright’s coming-of-age tale Frankie Vah is set in Thatcher’s Britain but the debate is as relevant as ever What happens if you love your parents but loathe their politics?...

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Benjamin Zephaniah admits to hitting a former girlfriend

Speaking on BBC radio the author, who has written in the past about his father beating his mother, said the violence had ‘burned his conscience’ Acclaimed author and poet Benjamin Zephaniah has...

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Kei Miller essay about white women sparks tensions among Caribbean writers

Miller’s essay has been withdrawn after divisive reception, but supporters say it is part of a necessary conversation about race and privilege An incendiary essay by the award-winning Jamaican poet Kei...

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Venus as a Bear by Vahni Capildeo review – direct, intimate and funny

From Björk to beasts … impressive cross-cultural investigations into the natural world A good place to find bears in Roman Britain would have been north of the Antonine Wall, the subject of a poem in...

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Wendy Cope on Erith: 'A place few people have heard of and even fewer can...

The poet traces her love of Gilbert and Sullivan to amateur operatic productions at the theatre in the town I was born in Erith, Kent, a place few people have heard of and even fewer can pronounce –...

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Benjamin Zephaniah: ‘I don’t want to grow old alone’

The author and poet, 60, on why the best kung fu move is to run, how he’s going to try online dating and why it’s best not to touch his chocolate There was a time when I thought I wouldn’t live to see...

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Poem of the week: Old Poem by Anonymous, translated by Arthur Waley

The bare scene that greets an old soldier returning from long service is understated but deeply affecting At fifteen I went with the army,At fourscore I came home.On the way I met a man from the...

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Country diary: forget-me-nots have a heart of gold

Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: These delicate flowers are the colour of the far blue yonder, blue remembered hills, into the blue, the beyond, a spiritual eternity “Is love so prone to change and rot/ We...

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Quiz: can you guess the city from the literary quote?

Which city did Margaret Atwood describe as ‘New York without the garbage and muggings’? Which writer called one London area ‘ungentrified, ungentrifiable’? Pit your wits against our quiz “With so many...

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Kayo Chingonyi wins Dylan Thomas prize with poems of 'vexed celebration'

Kumukanda, the Zambian-British author’s collection exploring black masculinity, wins £30,000 award for authors aged 39 or under The Zambian-British writer Kayo Chingonyi’s exploration of black...

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The Poetess review – Saudi poet's reality TV breakthrough … and backlash

This entertaining documentary about Hissa Hilal, the first female finalist on the wildly popular Million’s Poet, reflects on her dazzling smackdown and the death threats that followed Talk about a...

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Poet Hera Lindsay Bird: 'I forget about the sex in my book until I read it...

New Zealand’s outspoken ‘Instapoet’ star discusses sentimentality, sitcoms – and why humour is essential to her work Acclaimed by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as “the most arresting and original...

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