Quantcast
Channel: Poetry | The Guardian

Poem of the week: To Tartar, a Terrier Beauty by Thomas Lovell Beddoes

0
0

A generous, intense tribute to a loving but profoundly mysterious companion

Sonnet: To Tartar, a Terrier Beauty

Snowdrop of dogs, with ear of brownest dye,
Like the last orphan leaf of naked tree
Which shudders in bleak autumn; though by thee,
Of hearing careless and untutored eye,
Not understood articulate speech of men
Nor marked the artificial mind of books,
The mortal’s voice eternized by the pen,
Yet hast thou thought and language all unknown
To Babel’s scholars; oft intensest looks,
Long scrutiny o’er some dark-veined stone
Dost thou bestow, learning dead mysteries
Of the world’s birth-day, oft in eager tone
With quick-tailed fellows bandiest prompt replies,
Solicitudes canine, four-footed amities.

Continue reading...

Peter Abbs obituary

0
0

My father, Peter Abbs, who has died aged 78, was a writer, poet and educator, and Sussex University’s first professor of creative writing.

He wrote 13 books on education and 11 volumes of poetry, as well as teaching hundreds of future teachers and creative writers on the MA programme in language, education and the arts that he co-founded.

Continue reading...

Patti Smith: 'As a writer, you can be a pacifist or a murderer'

0
0

As she prepares to ring in 2021 with a performance on screens at Piccadilly Circus, the punk poet explains why she’s optimistic amid the ‘debris’ of Trump’s years in office

Patti Smith talks about her first poetry performance – in 1971 at St Mark’s Church in New York’s Bowery – as if it were yesterday. “I remember everything,” she says over the phone from her home in New York. Smith was in her early 20s, working at a bookshop and living in the Chelsea Hotel with her then lover, the playwright Sam Shepard. She had attended poetry readings before, most of which put her into a deep sleep. “I wanted to do something that wasn’t boring,” she recalls. “Sam said that since I sang to myself all the time, I should try singing a song, or maybe do something with a guitar.” And so she called on the musician Lenny Kaye to provide “interpretative” noises on guitar while she half-read, half-sang her poems.

The show was an instant hit. “It seemed to make a big impression on people – which I really didn’t understand,” she says. The producer Sandy Pearlman approached her afterwards and suggested she front a rock band. She eventually took his advice, making the landmark album Horses in 1975, and an icon of American punk was born.

Trump's damage is not going to be easily healed. He has empowered people of a like mind

Circa presents Patti Smith throughout January at 20:21 GMT at Piccadilly Lights, London. A limited-edition print by Smith will be available to buy for £100 from 1 January. Viewers can watch the installation on YouTube from 23:45 GMT on 31 December.

Continue reading...

For Those I Love: Ireland's potent new poet of grief

0
0

Recalling the delivery of the Streets and the music of James Blake, David Balfe’s project is a cathartic document in the wake his best friend’s death

When the Irish recession of 2008 shattered the country’s economy, communities from Dublin’s inner city neighbourhoods of Coolock and Donaghmede were struck hard. The frank lyrics of David Balfe, under the pseudonym For Those I Love, illuminate a generation who emerged from the wreckage.

“I’ve been with people whose families had lost their livelihoods because of the recession,” says the 29-year-old. “At that younger age you don’t have the vocabulary, but you see that displacement, and you think: ‘Why are we suffering? Why has this happened to us?’”

Continue reading...

2021 in books: what to look forward to this year

0
0

Kazuo Ishiguro returns with a novel about an artificial friend, Zadie Smith brings the Wife of Bath bang up to date, Bill Gates takes on the climate crisis ... a literary calendar for the year ahead

Continue reading...

Salt Moon by David Harsent and Simon Harsent review – night visions

0
0

Father and son combine poetry with photography to elegant effect, locating our inner turbulence in nocturnal seas

This book belongs in a category of its own. It is an unusual collaboration between the poet David Harsent and his photographer son, Simon– not a poetry collection in an ordinary sense, but a startling and beautiful double act about the moon on the sea at night. Through a glass darkly, we see the sea – never the shore – in a sequence of black-and-white photographs. The stills are never still. The moon keeps changing and the water’s texture changes too: feathers, fur, oil paint. Stippled and amniotic, it is suggestive of an ultrasound scan and tempts one into fancifully seeing this book as a birth of sorts – of an exceptional and elegant hardback.

What briefly promises to be a bird’s eye view becomes the dizzying consciousness of a sightless bird – a blind vision

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: Sibelius by John Greening

0
0

A meditation on the later years of the Finnish composer reflects more generally on creative renewal

Sibelius

It’s January. A swan’s wing overhead
reminds you of his Fifth
but also of his death, that skein
breaking away to circle him
as if to announce what year it was.

Continue reading...

Lee Lawrence’s memoir of his mother’s shooting by police wins Costa award

0
0

The Louder I Will Sing wins best biography, with other prizes including best novel for Monique Roffey and posthumous poetry honour for Eavan Boland

Debut author Lee Lawrence has won the Costa biography award for a memoir about his lengthy quest to find justice for his mother, who was left paralysed after being shot by London police in 1985.

Related: ‘The man who shot my mum is still living his life’: Cherry Groce's son on life after police brutality

Continue reading...

Hiddensee by Annie Freud review – a painterly imagination

0
0

Modest, gentle and universal, these understated poems are a small masterclass in the art of synthesis

Painter, retired civil servant and the eldest child of Lucian, Annie Freud launched her poetry career with funny, often highly sexualised light verse. Now at 72 she has published her fourth collection, Hiddensee– a book that locates her quite differently, as a former student of comparative literature whose imagination is furnished with European high culture and who is, it turns out, a highly accomplished literary translator.

Hiddensee is named after the sandy Baltic island that has been a traditional resort of German writers and artists. In English it’s also of course a richly suggestive compound: poetry, after all, tries to perform acts of divination on the unseen. There is also a suggestion of hide-and-seek, the fort-da game her great-grandfather famously analysed. But the book makes sure you know all about the actual island, and what it represents to the author, because Freud has provided us with an endnote. In fact, this book has a total of 18 endnotes, and superscript numbers are sprinkled across the poems in a way that’s either irritating or refreshingly unexpected, depending on your taste.

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: Under the Light, yet under by Emily Dickinson

0
0

Like so many of her great poems, this almost-riddle combines a childlike simplicity with great complexity

Under the Light, yet under

Under the Light, yet under,
Under the Grass and the Dirt,
Under the Beetle’s Cellar
Under the Clover’s Root,

Further than Arm could stretch
Were it Giant long,
Further than Sunshine could
Were the Day Year long,

Over the Light, yet over,
Over the Arc of the Bird —
Over the Comet’s chimney —
Over the Cubit’s Head,

Further than Guess can gallop
Further than Riddle ride —
Oh for a Disc to the Distance
Between Ourselves and the Dead!

Continue reading...

Poem of the month: How to balance law books on your head by Holly Hopkins

0
0

The problem isn’t how, I absolutely know
the answer is to go to a Main Street
some town I don’t live and find a stranger
who hates me, and my clothes, and my voice
and who (while they would never dream
of hurting me in person) suspects
the world would be better with me dead,
and persuade her that she wants to stand
so close my greasy nose presses into hers
and, recycling each other’s soupy breaths,
balance the books between us on our foreheads.
My only problem is how to do that.


Continue reading...

From naked protests to challenging Museveni: Uganda’s 'rudest feminist' on the campaign trail

0
0

Stella Nyanzi is Uganda's most outspoken, self-described radical queer feminist. She has been imprisoned for her activism and is known for her attention-grabbing naked protests and poetry. In an election campaign that has become increasingly violent, Nyanzi is standing to be the elected MP for Kampala, as part of the growing nationwide opposition to the 35-year presidency of Yoweri Museveni. 

With most attention focused on Museveni's presidential challenger Bobi Wine, Nyanzi is on the streets and in the media campaigning for her own votes. She vows that, unlike other women who have been elected, she will not forget her commitment to feminism if she wins

Continue reading...

Rimbaud's remains will not be moved to Panthéon, rules Macron

0
0

President decides against relocating remains of French poet to Parisian memorial

The remains of the famed French poet Arthur Rimbaud will not be moved to the Panthéon mausoleum despite a campaign to honour him as an artist and symbol of gay rights, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, has decided.

A petition last year backed by a number of celebrities as well as the culture minister, Roselyne Bachelot, called for Rimbaud to be reinterred alongside his lover and fellow poet Paul Verlaine at the monument in central Paris.

Related: France divided over calls for Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine to be reburied in Panthéon

Continue reading...

The Guardian view on Dante: heavenly wisdom for our troubled times | Editorial

0
0

On the 700th anniversary of the great poet’s death, his Divine Comedy carries a powerful message for modern culture warriors

Seven hundred years after his death, updating Dante’s Divine Comedy continues to be an enjoyable pastime. What, for example, would Minos, the mythological judge in Inferno, make of Boris Johnson? Snake-tailed and scowling, Minos sits at the mouth of hell, assessing sinners before sending them to their appropriate location in the nine circles of torment. Popes, emperors and Dante’s personal enemies are all blown downwards to their just deserts by a bitterly cold wind.

For Mr Johnson, the upper circles, where sins of passion and unrestrained appetite are punished, might seem a natural home. Alternatively, remembering the notorious ‘‘£350m for the NHS” Brexit pledge, the eighth circle – where falsifiers and promoters of schism languish – could be a good fit.

Continue reading...

Cerys Matthews, Hidden Orchestra and 10 Poets: We Are from the Sun review – works a treat

0
0

(Decca)
Poets ranging from Adam Horovitz to Imtiaz Dharker are backed by shifting arrangements from Matthews and Joe Acheson on this remarkable collaboration

In the pop era, the long love affair between poetry and music has bloomed into inspired tributes – the Waterboys on Yeats, say, or Jah Wobble on Blake – while living poets declaiming to music has proved more erratic. There have been highs – Betjeman, Cooper Clarke, LKJ, Tempest – but worthy-but-dull is more common. Here, Cerys Matthews and studio polymath Joe Acheson , AKA Hidden Orchestra, pull off the trick in style, with 10 diverse UK poets reading to arrangements that shape-shift dazzlingly between pastoral sound washes, stark beats and found sounds, all with “genesis” as the theme (more “poem song” albums are promised).

Among the award-laden poets (and some of us clearly haven’t been paying attention), Adam Horovitz and Liz Berry embrace the landscapes that shaped them, respectively Cotswold stone and Black Country grime, the latter evoked by a confusion of furnace, factory noise and feathers before drifting away on the white breath prayer of January. MA Moyo’s Flame Lily, an invocation of feminine power, gets growling synths and clattering drums. Raymond Antrobus’s elegiac memories of his father need only a piano coda, while Imtiaz Dharker’s nocturnal cameo is set to dreamy trumpet. A fascinating, lyrical collection – what an alt national treasure Cerys has become.

Continue reading...

Remembering a tragedy: culture inspired by the New Cross fire

Poem of the week: Old Flat, Abandoned by Rory Waterman

0
0

A return visit to a former home shows that the life once lived there is definitively lost

Old Flat, Abandoned

I force open the door:
its shadow shoots
down the wall
where webs tremble
in door-breath and light.
A thread bows. Breaches.
Ahead, the flight
of (bare wood) steps
(with carpet tacks)
runs up to gloom.

Old Flat, Abandoned is from Rory Waterman’s excellent third collection Sweet Nothings, published in May 2020.

Continue reading...

Len Barron obituary

0
0

My friend Len Barron, who has died of double pneumonia aged 63, was an inspirational part of the Hillingdon Library community in west London and worked at Harefield Library for 27 years. Len inspired many people, especially children, with his love of reading, poetry and the arts. He formed the Harefield poetry group and was a prolific poet himself.

He started working for Hillingdon Libraries as a library assistant in 1993, mainly based in the village of Harefield. Len could have easily been a manager or librarian but he was passionate about being on the frontline. He established a love of reading in generations of Harefield children, through work with the local school next door, teaching them chess, greeting them in the library after school and helping them with their homework.

Continue reading...

The Late Sun by Christopher Reid review – masterly light and shade

0
0

Moments of passing beauty and monumental losses are handled with equal skill in a comforting book

Christopher Reid’s wonderful, calming new collection The Late Sun is a patchwork of sunlight and shade. The opening poem, Photography, set in a sunny restaurant before lunch, ends contemplatively:

What I can see and am smitten
by is a cool, square depth
of shadow and nuance,
fixed for an instant, an age.

Continue reading...

Amanda Gorman will be youngest poet to recite at a presidential inauguration

0
0

The 22-year-old will recite The Hill We Climb at Joe Biden’s swearing-in on Wednesday, following in the footsteps of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou

Amanda Gorman is set to become the sixth poet to perform at a presidential inauguration. At just 22, following in the footsteps of names including Robert Frost and Maya Angelou, she will also be the youngest.

Gorman, who was born and raised in Los Angeles and studied sociology at Harvard, became America’s first-ever national youth poet laureate in 2017. According to US reports, it was president-elect Joe Biden’s wife, Jill Biden, who recommended her as his inaugural poet. Gorman will be performing on Wednesday alongside Lady Gaga, who will be singing the American national anthem, and Jennifer Lopez.

Continue reading...