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Poetry

Imtiaz Dharker receives Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry
December 20, 2014 | 11:38 am

Pakistan-born British poet Imtiaz Dharker has received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, one of the prizes and awards within the gift of the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom. Instituted in 1933 by King George V, on the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield, the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry "is given for a book of verse published by someone from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm. Recommendations for the award of the medal are made by a committee of eminent men and women of letters, under the chairmanship of the Poet Laureate." I can't do better than...

Liz Lochhead and the sad spectacle of Makargate
December 11, 2014 | 12:03 pm

One of the more dramatic, and sorrier, literary hangovers from the Scottish Independence Referendum has been the so-called "Makargate" controversy, when Liz Lochhead, celebrated poet and reigning Scots Makar (the Caledonian poet laureate), joined the Scottish National Party. A pro-Unionist body of opinion promptly declared that this new allegiance disqualified her from being a national poet for Scotland, and that she should resign....

Scottish Poetry Library launches appeal to fund expansion
December 6, 2014 | 2:13 pm

The Scottish Poetry Library, nerve center of the poetry community in Scotland, has launched an appeal to fund expansion plans for its building, via online donations and other fundraising exercises. The expansion program has already received considerable funding support, but needs further contributions to reach its target. "The Space for Sound Campaign is a £450,000 [$703,785] refurbishment of the Scottish Poetry Library. Creative Scotland, The Binks Trust, Robert Gavron Charitable Trust and the Wolfson Foundation have given leadership contributions to our Space for Sound campaign but there remains £150,000 [$234,600] to raise in 2014. You are invited to help us meet this goal,"...

Medieval poem illuminates Magna Carta
November 30, 2014 | 4:25 pm

In an object lesson in how the study of poetry and literature can shed fresh light on not just history, but even politics, researchers at the British Library in London have unearthed fresh contemporary accounts of the genesis and signing of Magna Carta, the founding document of Anglo-Saxon democracy, in a poem in a 13th-century chronicle originally from Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders. "Today we’re revealing a little-known medieval poem from our collections containing the earliest independent account of what happened at Runnymede between King John and the Barons when the Magna Carta was agreed," states the British Library press...

Chinese tomb find shows poetry that lasts 1000 years
November 18, 2014 | 10:25 am

poetryReaders in today's ephemeral high-churn throwaway society might like to pause and reflect on a story just revealed by the academic journal Chinese Cultural Relics, and relayed via LiveScience: A Chinese nobleman's tomb dating from the Liao Dynasty, some 1000 years ago, excavated near Datong City in northern Shanxi province, has revealed, along with sculptures and other tomb furniture, decorative murals including a poem. This preservation of a poem will come as no surprise to anyone ... ahem ... versed in the traditions of Chinese poetry. Although the Liao Dynasty derived from a nomadic Khitan khanate, many of its citizens and...

Dylan Thomas notebook find may help clarify creative process
November 17, 2014 | 8:25 pm

A private notebook of Welsh giant Dylan Thomas, dated to 1934-35 but left forgotten in his mother-in-law’s house before being saved from burning by her maid and kept among her effects for some 70 years, has now gone on sale through Sotheby’s of London and may shed light on his personal creative process - long a puzzle because of the young poet’s striking precocity. Thomas composed most of the poems he is famous for while in his teens, and up till now, many of those, some 200 verses, were preserved in just four notebooks from the period 1930-34. And now there...

The poet, the pipeline, and the punitive lawsuit
November 13, 2014 | 8:25 pm

Poetry, that harmless, airy-fairy, abstruse pursuit ... that you get slapped with a $5.6 million lawsuit for. Come again? Yes, this is exactly what happens in Stephen Harper's Canada, where Vancouver poet and professor at Simon Fraser University Stephen Collis is one of six defendants being sued for $5.6 million by Texas-headquartered energy giant Kinder Morgan (slogan: "A Different Kind of Energy Company") “for their part in opposing the Trans Mountain pipeline and terminal expansion” at Burnaby Mountain. This follows a move by the city of Burnaby to appeal against a decision by Canada's National Energy Board to allow Kinder Morgan...

Helen Mort wins Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection prize 2014
November 10, 2014 | 2:25 pm

Division StreetHelen Mort, a 29-year-old British poet, has won this year's Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection prize, conferred at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, for her collection Division Street. Helen Mort is already a multiple prize winner, five times winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, recipient of an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and winner of the Manchester Young Writer Prize for 2008. Division Street has already attracted some glowing reviews elsewhere. According to the conditions of entry, "any first collection of at least 40 pages with primary publication in the UK and Republic of Ireland between 1 August 2013 and 31 July...

Dylan Thomas’s last days recalled in BBC film
November 2, 2014 | 10:00 am

As many will be aware, this year marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, born October 27th 1914 and died tragically young in New York on November 9th, 1953. One of the many commemorations, dramatizations, and documentaries around this iconic doomed poet is a BBC America film, "A Poet in New York,” starring Tom Hollander, and still available to watch online for another three weeks - for those in the UK anyway. Fine production that it is, and very well received, there's one point in it that I'd take issue with. “He’s one of...

Further reflections on the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award
September 6, 2014 | 11:31 am

Edwin MorganThe inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award with its £20,000 [$31,300] first prize was one of the highlights of this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival. After the Award, I polled some of those involved for their reaction to it. Asked what she thought of how the Award had been put together, and its significance, Robyn Marsack, Director of the Scottish Poetry Library commented The Award was specificed in Edwin Morgan's will, so it has been run according to his wishes. He wanted to reward and encourage poets under 30. When we were running it at the Scottish poetry library, I was quite anxious,...

Interview with Claire Askew, runner-up in the first Edwin Morgan Award
August 31, 2014 | 3:30 pm

At this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, I spoke to Claire Askew, runner-up for the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for her unpublished collection ‘This changes things". She received the £1000 ($1660) awarded to all shortlisted poets, "and a further amount to support her work towards publication." Judge Stewart Conn praised her "voice that is arrestingly and distinctively her own… words and imagery constantly seeming fresh-minted." I spoke to her about the Award, her work, and modern Scottish poetry. TeleRead: To what extent do you find yourself working within a specifically Scottish tradition? Claire Askew: I definitely do. I'm an interesting person to...

Interview with Niall Campbell, winner of the first Edwin Morgan Award
August 27, 2014 | 3:56 pm

At this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, poet Niall Campbell came first in the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for young Scottish poets with a first collection (published or unpublished). Under the terms of the Award, he received £20,000 ($33,000), twice the value of the venerable and highly regarded James Tait Black Prize for fiction. I spoke to him about the Award and his own feelings regarding the Scottish tradition....