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Poetry

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...

High school freshmen poetry anthology reaches #1 in Apple’s iBook Store
May 9, 2014 | 12:25 pm

poetryThe prom can be expensive. From dresses and tuxedo rentals to limousines and flowers, high school seniors could spend some serious cash. A group of freshman from Los Gatos High School in California is saving up for it now. They are doing it by collaborating on an e-book. More than 120 freshman English honor students put together a poetry anthology, [easyazon-link asin="B00K60NEF2" locale="us"]Windows to the Teenage Soul[/easyazon-link]. It is being distributed through Smashwords and is featured on Amazon, Barnes& Noble, Apple’s iBook store, Kobo and more. “Unlike the self-publishing of the past, when an author would pay to have an unsuccessful book printed,...

Herrick backdates emoticons to 1648?
April 16, 2014 | 12:25 pm

Robert_Herrick_HesperidesWhile attending the WCF Davos Forum in March, I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by Scott E. Fahlman, widely hailed as "father of the first smiley emoticon in 1982." As it happens, though, there have been other challengers to that claim - the New York Times once ran a story citing an excerpt from an Abraham Lincoln speech in 1862 that may have had a smiley inserted. Now, though, writer and editor Levi Stahl claims he may have discovered one of the earliest emoticons of all - a line in the poem "To Fortune" by 17th-century English poet...

Jimmy Carter endorses grant to Dylan Thomas Centre
April 10, 2014 | 4:37 pm

DSC_3730aIn the centenary year of his birth on October 27th, 1914, great Welsh poet Dylan Thomas is to be recognized with a grant of almost £1 million ($1.68 million) from the UK's Heritage Lottery Fund to further develop the Dylan Thomas Centre in his home city of Swansea, according to advance reports from The Guardian. The move has been praised by ex-U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who has cultivated a long-standing enthusiasm for the poet. "I have continuously advocated the importance of commemorating his life and work," said Carter, as quoted by The Guardian. "It is great to see that this funding...

For Burns Night, the online heritage of Robert Burns
January 25, 2014 | 10:00 am

Scotland has one up on its southern neighbor a matter that says a lot about the current struggles over British identity - a national day and a national hero who is also its national bard. That gives a unity of expression to Scottish nationhood that in England is too diffuse: no one can likely remember offhand the English national day, while Burns Night is known worldwide. Yet like his near contemporary William Blake, born just two years before, Robert Burns (January 25th, 1759 – July 21st, 1796) developed his muse in poor surroundings to become an embodiment of national sentiment, with verse...

Mark Grist wants ‘Girls Who Read’
November 19, 2013 | 10:25 am

What do you look for in a woman? Mark Grist has something to say about it. According to him, it doesn’t always have to about physical attributes – but, of course, those bits are nice too. Here’s a video performed by Mark Grist, who is a poet and Educational Consultant, according to his website. His newest video is titled “Girls Who Read.” http://youtu.be/lmEbF2uhsZk Here’s an excerpt from it, but it’s worth watching: “I would like a girl who reads, who needs the written word and who uses the added vocabulary she gleams from novels and poetry to hold lively conversation in a range of social...

Pounding It Out With Ol Ez: Ezra Pound’s Birthday
October 30, 2013 | 2:25 pm

ezra poundOctober 30th marks the birth of Ezra Pound (1885-1972), one of those giants of 20th-century literature who, thanks to the same quirk of copyright timing that affected his contemporaries and sometimes collaborators (no, no, not that kind of collaborator ...) James Joyce and T.S. Eliot,  has a large part of his oeuvre freely available online. Project Gutenberg, to name but one source, has many of his early poems and translations, including his translations from Chinese and his apprentice masterpiece Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. The Open Library also carries numerous essays and articles. You could build entire poetic careers out of one...

The positive curative power of poetry
October 26, 2013 | 10:47 am

poetryAs a follow-up to my earlier piece on the latest neurological evidence for the actual physical effects of verse, here's a couple of items detailing further evidence of the power of poetry over the human mind. Catherine Porteus, a reader of UK live poetry platform and fan site Pass On a Poem, describes how the sound of verse enabled her to learn poetry even though she was a self-described dyslexia sufferer. And Living Words, "an arts and literature programme that uses the spoken and written word to help ...people with dementia and isolated and disempowered people," employs "poetry, personalised word books and anthologies" plus other...

Scientists show that poetry is the music of the mind
October 22, 2013 | 10:29 am

poetryClaims by generations of poets, critics and readers that poetry shares the power of music to directly affect our emotions and feelings have been given some substance by researchers at the UK's University of Exeter, as reported by the University itself and retweeted by the UK Poetry Society. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), Professor Adam Zeman, a cognitive neurologist from the University of Exeter Medical School, led a cross-disciplinary team with Psychology and English faculty members to examine which parts of the brain are triggered when readers read poetry and prose. And they found that the areas of the brain which...

UK National Poetry Day uses apps, websites to spread the poetry love
October 3, 2013 | 4:18 pm

Britain's National Poetry Day, a "a nationwide celebration of poetry" which "shakes poetry from its dust-jacket and into the nations’ streets, offices, shops, playgrounds, train stations and  airwaves," launches this year with the help of a Love Book App, available for iOS and Android for , which "presents a new anthology of timeless poems, short stories, quotes and letters, all inspired by that most noble (and most troublesome) of emotions: love." According to The Love Book app's website, the app has already had a stealth launch that went viral, and is now Number One top paid app on the iPhone App...

R.I.P. Seamus Heaney: The passing of a giant
August 30, 2013 | 12:50 pm

A few hundred words are going to be far too little to pay tribute to Seamus Heaney (April 13th, 1939 – August 30th, 2013), one of the titans of modern literature, a giant who the whole earth is too small to hold. The Irish Times' official obituary quoted Robert Lowell's judgment in calling him "the most important Irish poet since Yeats"—it might just as well have said the most important poet of the later 20th and early 21st centuries. Only his predecessor as Nobel Prize for Literature holder Pablo Neruda rivaled him in popularity, and arguably never surpassed him in moral stature. We...