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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Poetry Parnassus at Southbank Centre

Simon Armitage

We’ve been hearing rumblings of this for the last year and a half and now it looks like it’s finally coming to land. Spearheaded by the poet Simon Armitage this promises to the biggest poetry event in the world. Ever. Certainly, it feels like the most ambitious. Can anyone say, United Colours of Poetry?

All very exciting!

The Poetry of Sex

Peter J. Leithart is pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Moscow, Idaho, and Senior Fellow of Theology and Literature at New St Andrews College. Here,  he looks at Solomon’s Song of Songs from the bible to consider how the poem uses the romantic and the erotic to relate to godliness.

Call for Submissions for Sports-themed Poetry for Children

Carol-Ann Hoyte, a children’s literature specialist-advocate based in Quebec, Canada, is looking for sports-themed poetry aimed at children for an ebook. There have been submissions from different countries, mainly the USA. She is looking to increase the number of submissions from Canada, England, and Australia as well as from Caribbean, African, and Asian nations.

Read more about it and where to submit.

John Burnside Wins T S Eliot Prize (But Not Without Controversy)

John Burnside

These days it seems you can’t have a high profile poetry prize or appointment without some attendant, no, prerequisite brouhaha. So, of course, the T S Eliot Prize gets to have its very own in the shape of two poets – Alice Oswald and John Kinsella – withdrawing their entries from the prize because it has been funded by a hedge fund Aurum.

The three year sponsorship with Aurum came in the wake of a 100% cut to funding by the Arts Council, forcing the Poetry Book Society, who manages the prize, to seek money elsewhere.

I’ll stick my neck out a bit by wondering how much Aurum can be “at the pointy end of capitalism” as Kinsella puts it, if it’s willing to fund poetry and the arts in general. Granted, Aurum no doubt has its own not so altruistic agenda in wanting to fund prize but where else could the money have come from?

Even more controversially, the news of Burnside’s win has yet to make it to the Poetry Book Society’s own website yet it’s on Guardian’s website and has even made it as far as the Chicago Tribune’s. I’m jesting of course when I say this is controversial but is this indicative of the PBS’ straitened circumstances?

Even more – gasp – controversially, the title of Burnside’s winning collection, Black Cat Bone is very close to the title of a poem I wrote some years ago called Black Dog Bone. Both the title of his collection and my poem are inspired by Vodoun. I’m aware this means something only to me but I’d hate to be accused of plagiarism!


Alleged Blasphemy Case: Poet Turns to Arrest for Unpaid Printing Bill

Poetry and the phrase “all human life is here” are natural bedfellows but this case, where a mentor poet resorts to extreme measures in order to get paid, is particularly bizarre. Read more in the International Herald Tribune.

Ezra Pound’s Daughter Struggles to Wrest the Poet’s Legacy from Italian Fascists

Ezra Pound with his daughter and his father

It’s a thorny issue. Separating the sublime art from the all too flawed life. It’s happened with Larkin, Wagner and countless others. And let’s not forget that in recent years, Larkin has been named Britain’s best loved poet and best post-war poet despite his nasty words about black people and women among other things.

Is Pound irredeemable? Is this any surprise? Is it possible to separate the human from the work especially in the case of poetry, which more than any other art form reflects the particular sensibilities of the creator.

As I said, it’s a sticky wicket. The Guardian talks to Ezra Pound’s daughter.

From The Spectator Series – Discovering Poetry: Milton’s Blindness

The Spectator analyses John Milton’s poetry about his rapidly failing sight.

Sonnet XIX

When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”

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