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How our poet laureate has embraced his new role

Simon Armitage’s output since being made poet laureate is to be lauded, while his musical counterpart prefers to keep a low profile Poet laureate Simon Armitage read out his latest work, Fugitives, on...

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Britten Sinfonia / Gourlay review – Turnage and Clayton sing out for refugees

Milton Court, LondonPoems on displacement by Benjamin Zephaniah, Brian Bilston, Dickinson and Auden drive a weighty new song cycle by Mark-Anthony Turnage, delivered masterfully by Allan Clayton...

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Radical verse versus the poetic traditions | Letters

Poetry that breaks the rules is not the only poetry worth reading, argues Richard MeierHow could one not welcome, as Fiona Sampson does (Review, 14 September), the fact that “at long last, diverse...

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Poem of the week: Station to Station by David Clarke

Moving between the continent and a grimy England, the dying days of an ambiguous relationship are recorded Station to Station Zoologischer GartenThe dawn comes pre-soundtracked –shimmers of Moog, the...

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Al Alvarez obituary

Writer, critic and poetry editor of the Observer best known for The Savage God, a meditation on literary suicideIf one credits the title of his autobiography from 1999 – Where Did it All Go Right? –...

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$625,000 'genius grants' go to Ocean Vuong and six other writers

The MacArthur Foundation honours, which encourage winners to ‘continue to innovate’, also won by Valeria Luiselli, Lynda Berry and Emily Wilson Ocean Vuong, the award-winning poet who came to the US...

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'I felt changed': Max Porter on the book everyone should read about grief

Written after the death of her son, Denise Riley’s Time Lived, Without Its Flow finds radical and consoling ways to understand bereavement I wrote a short novel about grief. One of its central conceits...

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Al Alvarez: in praise of a literary cowboy

People lover, adrenaline freak, poker player and true romantic... the Observer’s former poetry editor remembered by his publisher• Al Alvarez remembered by playwright Patrick Marber Al Alvarez, who...

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Poem of the week: Drama Lessons for Young Girls by Tara Bergin

Three strikingly different subjects are fused into one powerful feminist parable Drama Lessons for Young Girls Remember:in a stage play every scene is driven by OBJECTIVES.Every scene is driven by WHAT...

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Elaine Feinstein obituary

Poet and novelist who transformed literary writing in the 1970sElaine Feinstein, who has died aged 88, was a leading poet and the bringer of a new internationalism to British verse. As a novelist, she...

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Bob Marley's London home gets one of few blue plaques for black artists

Plaque at Chelsea house where reggae star lived in the 70s one of ‘unacceptably low’ number Benjamin Zephaniah was a schoolboy when he sent a letter to Bob Marley along the lines of: “I’m a poet from...

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Nobody by Alice Oswald review – given up to the fateful waves

Alice Oswald is at the height of her powers in this single poem inspired by stories from The OdysseyAlice Oswald’s element is water. Her unforgettable Dart (2002) was about a river, and this...

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'Give up and go to the pub': Australia's top authors on beating writer's block

Nominees for the 2019 Prime Minister’s Literary awards share their tips on tackling the monster that plagues all writers Nominated for Blakwork (poetry) Related: Queensland literary awards 2019:...

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The language of politics is 'shallow and threadbare', says poet laureate

Simon Armitage criticised politicians’ use of cliches in a discussion about ‘truth’, this year’s theme for National Poetry Day The language of politics is so “shallow and threadbare” that it has...

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Landmark poems of the last century

Far from being elitist, poetry in the last 100 years has been defined by an urgent desire to communicate. Here are five poems that each illuminate their ageFor too long, poetry has had a reputation for...

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Jackie Kay selects Britain's 10 best BAME writers

The acclaimed poet and author introduces favourite authors who ‘open up the world to you and give you the world back’ When I was a teenager, the only black writer I came across was Wole Soyinka in his...

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Clive James: ‘The most overrated books almost all emerged from a single genre...

The author, critic and poet on reading Biggles as a child and his admiration for Philip Larkin The book I am currently readingMostly at this stage I am rereading myself, and finding something...

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Ciaran Carson obituary

Poet who superimposed a psychic overlay on the streets and terraces of his native BelfastThe poet Ciaran Carson, who has died aged 70 of cancer, grew up in the Catholic Falls Road area of Belfast. He...

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Poem of the week: When winter comes by Jane Clarke

The rich colours of a forge, and the controlled violence of the blacksmith’s tools offer vivid imagery for an elegy about grief When winter comes remember what the blacksmithknows – dim light is best...

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Top 10 books about Europe

From Homer to Camus by way of Brecht, French author Laurent Gaudé picks the books that tell us something important about the continent today The European Union is no topic for a novel. It’s not...

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