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Poetry

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....

The Scottish Poetry Library turns 30
August 17, 2014 | 12:45 pm

The Scottish Poetry Library this year reaches its 30th birthday, an occasion celebrated with a special event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Founded by Tessa Ransford, the Scottish Poetry Library initially consisted of "some rooms off the Royal Mile in the Old Town of Edinburgh, 300 books – mostly donated – and a part-time staff of two." Supported by the Scottish Poetry Library Association, founded in 1982,the Library itself opened January 1984 "in the former packing-room of publishers Oliver & Boyd in Edinburgh’s historic Tweeddale Court." In 1999, the Library moved to "an award-winning building designed by Malcolm Fraser Architects...

Hugh MacDiarmid: A blessing or a curse on modern Scottish nationalism?
August 11, 2014 | 10:25 am

Today, August 11th, marks the birth of Christopher Murray Grieve, otherwise known as Hugh MacDiarmid, one of the greatest Scottish writers of modern times. He was also one of the most fervent and articulate advocates of an unique Scottish identity, and practically the instigator of the modern Scottish Renaissance in Caledonian literature and art. And in this year of the Scottish referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, it's worth looking at MacDiarmid's influence on modern Scottish nationalism, and how much he did to help - or hinder - the movement. Politically as well as poetically engaged, MacDiarmid was an early...

Step up now to save Blake’s Cottage
July 25, 2014 | 2:25 pm

Cottage-in-Milton-1024x571 William Blake is not only one of England's most celebrated and beloved literary and artistic sons worldwide, he is also author of what has become the unofficial English national anthem, "Jerusalem." Yet the cottage in Felpham, Sussex, where he composed "Jerusalem" is now up for sale to private buyers after UK cultural bodies failed to make a move to save it. The Blake Society, custodians of his memory, have been given a strictly time-limited opportunity to buy the property at a discount - if they can find enough donors. "We have until the 31 October 2014 to raise enough money to...

Faber iPad app brings Scots via Irish with Seamus Heaney Henryson versions
May 26, 2014 | 12:47 pm

One of the most interesting posthumous Seamus Heaney publications to appear since the great Irish poet's death has just debuted in the shape of Seamus Heaney: Five Fables, an iPad app "based on Seamus Heaney’s translations of Scottish poet Robert Henryson’s fables, recently adapted and animated for the BBC," according to the app's introduction from Northern Ireland Screen. "A partnership between Touch Press, Faber and Flickerpix, funded by Northern Ireland Screen's Ulster–Scots Broadcast Fund, the app presents an immersive, interactive experience." The app even has its own website, here. Robert Henryson was a late 15th-century Scottish poet, part of the extraordinary...