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Best poetry books of 2020

Clive James’s joyous farewell, David Bowie speaks to Simon Armitage – and sounds of the city from Caleb Femi While the pandemic might have stopped poets gathering physically, poetry itself is in good...

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Winston Churchill valued a united Europe | Observer letters

Boris Johnson forgets that his hero knew exactly what was needed to maintain lasting peace after the Second world war Nick Cohen omits just one piece of history in his recollection of Churchill...

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Poem of the week: Afterwardness by Mimi Khalvati

Fragile but precious memories haunt this resonant sonnet Afterwardness An eleven-year-old boy from Aleppowhose eyes hold only things no longer there– a citadel, a moat, safe rooms of...

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Life without Air by Daisy Lafarge review – ecological poetry

A fierce and clear-eyed debut that finds a fresh way to explore humankind’s role in environmental chaos The novelist and poet Daisy Lafarge’s TS Eliot prize shortlisted debut collection offers a fresh...

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Poem of the month: The Magus by Alan Gillis

Lead me, skulking, through the polyvinylwhiff and fooster of HighStreet shops, the tepid white wine swillof another morning sky until the fugazi colours, perturbing sheenof one store’svideo advert on...

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On my radar: Lemn Sissay's cultural highlights

The author and poet on Ethiopia’s art – and its amazing piano-playing nun; plus an Instagram page with a difference Lemn Sissay is an author, poet and broadcaster born to an Ethiopian mother in 1967 in...

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The best books of 2020, chosen by booksellers

From escapist novels to political awakenings, staff from award-winning independent bookshops pick the titles that got them through a trying year Authors’ books of the year Pages of Hackney, London To...

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The best books of 2020 – picked by our acclaimed guest authors

New fiction by Maggie O’Farrell and Hilary Mantel, a history of black Britons, a second helping of Lucian Freud… Our panel of writers – who all published books this year – share their favourite titles...

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The Guardian view on advent: what are we waiting for? | Editorial

This year we have learned to mark time once more – bringing frustration and despair, but also new pleasures With advent, we have entered a period of codified waiting. For Christians this means...

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Poem of the week: My Stranger by Maria Taylor

A funny but poignant story conceals – and reveals – much about its narrator My Stranger hangs where the plaster crackedand the ribs of the house show.He’s the only stranger I can afford,a middle-aged...

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Nobel literature prize winner Louise Glück reveals 'panic' in acceptance speech

On Monday it was also announced that the poet will publish a new collection, Winter Recipes from the Collective, in 2021 Nobel laureate Louise Glück has revealed her “panic” at becoming the 16th female...

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High Man Pen Meander review – gorgeous homage to Edwin Morgan

Available onlineIn this exquisite film we go backstage at Glasgow’s Tron to hear and see the poet’s work performed with beguiling theatricality It’s been a long time since we saw the black doors of...

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Elizabeth Barrett Browning letter describing lonely quarantine up for sale

Auctioneers say 1839 letter to her cousin bemoaning isolation in Torquay, with visitors ‘a thing forbidden’, is very apt reading this year Almost 200 years ago, the Victorian poet Elizabeth Barrett –...

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Poem of the week: On the Train by Harriet Monroe

The writer’s observations of fellow railway passengers in the 1920s coalesce into an authentically joyous work On the Train IThe lady in front of me in the car,With little red coils close over her...

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The best books of 2020 to support indie publishers this Christmas

Some of the most outstanding books by small presses, from an extraordinary year ‘It’s been a rollercoaster’: how indie publishers survived - and thrived - in 2020 Earthlingsby Sayaka Murata (Granta)...

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Paperchase removes card with orphan joke after protest from Lemn Sissay

After the poet joined others voicing dismay at Christmas card ‘punching down’ at children in care, the stationery chain has apologised and withdrawn it Paperchase has removed a card that mocked foster...

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David Constantine wins Queen's gold medal for poetry

Poet laureate Simon Armitage, a previous winner, praised the humanity of the author’s work ‘noticing and detailing the ways of the world’ The Queen’s gold medal for poetry has been awarded to David...

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Can you crack it? The bumper books quiz of 2020

What day job did the Booker winner have while writing his novel? Who was rejected by Mills & Boon before becoming a bestselling author? Test your wits with questions from Bernardine Evaristo,...

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Jackie Kay meets Brit Bennett: ‘I can't write about the pandemic. No part of...

The poet laureate of Scotland and the author of The Vanishing Half talk about featuring on ‘black reading lists’, the fear of wasting time and that tricky second novel Read the other conversations in...

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Poem of the week: Towards the End of the Feast by Andrew Greig

Chaos, and pathos, intrude on an awkward Christmas dinner Towards the End of the Feast The best way to bearthat flaming pudsignalling the latter stages of our feast Continue reading...

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