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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Robert Burns…in the Style of Banksy

Katy Perry AND John Donne in the Same Article? Who Knew?

This should have properly been a post for Valentine’s Day but the nature of love and the pondering thereof in poetry and song is the stuff of everyday, right? John Swarbrooke thinks so.

Who would you want to serenade you about love?

Poetry Teacher Takes On Student in Rap Battle

I realise this might not be the usual Tears in the Fence poetry fare but I suspect Mark Grist, the teacher involved in this rap battle, DOES read the type of poetry you might find in Tears. It tickles me that the teacher beat the student at his own game and with a lot more style and word play too! I’m familiar with the process of trying to engage young people with poetry in schools. It helps sometimes (depending on the school and the students) if you can approach it using something – like rap – that means something to them. I imagine Blizzard got a lesson in poetry and the manipulation of words that wouldn’t have sunk in quite the same way in the classroom!

An African Poet – Sitawa Namwalie

It isn’t often that we get to hear about the work of African poets on these shores. In fact, I’d say that there’s a dearth of information about African poets in Western news resources on the internet. So when I stumbled across a write up about the poet Sitawa Namwalie, it caught my eye. I’ll hold my hand up and say that my African background means that I am more likely to pay attention to such things.

Sitawa Namwalie, it seems, is quite a force to be reckoned with. She has toured at the Hay Festival and is the practitioner of a unique way of bringing poetry to the people. There’s a bit more about her here. I especially like that it says she’s “is married to a man of rare generosity.”

Michael Jackson’s Little Known Scottish Poetic Influence

Bet you didn’t see this one coming. It certainly made me go, “eh?” I can’t lie, I want to hear it!

Apparently, Michael Jackson recorded a bunch of show tunes inspired by the poetry of Robert Burns.

Yes, you read that right. The late King of Pop took on The Ploughman Poet. And…Crivens! Isn’t the resemblance between them uncanny? Or is that just me?

Wonder what Burns would have made of Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Now it’s got me thinking: remember the spoken word bit of Thriller intoned by Vincent Price (verses below)? I wonder what it would sound like in Burns’ Scottish accent?

Darkness falls across the land
The midnight hour is close at hand
Creatures crawl in search of blood
To terrorize your neighborhood
And those whoever shall be found
Without the soul for getting down
Must stand and face the hounds of hell
And rot inside a corpse’s shell

The foulest stench’s in the air
The funk of forty thousand years
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your doom
And though you fight to stay alive
Your body starts to shiver
for no mere mortal can resist
the evil of the thriller

Poetry Pairing in the New York Times – ‘Or’

I must admit that I’m enjoying the recently discovered Poetry Pairing series in the New York Times. You never know what a poem is going to be paired with. Sometimes it’s a picture, sometimes a song, sometimes an event from history…it’s always a surprise and always thought provoking.

With attitudes to race very much on the agenda in the UK these days, this pairing – Thomas Sayers Ellis’s Or with a 2011 video and article from the “Race Remixed” series in the New York Times – seems very timely.

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