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Men of Harlech rejoice worldwide for first Dylan Day
May 15, 2015 | 12:25 pm

dylan_day_poster_english_final_website  Dylan Day, in full the International Dylan Thomas Day, took place for the first time this year on May 14th, "the date Under Milk Wood was first read on stage at 92Y The Poetry Center, New York in 1953," according to the official Literature Wales website. And for those who want to recreate that original experience, there is a recording of a BBC Wales broadcast in October 2014 courtesy of the 92Y’s Unterberg Poetry Center, staged in New York for the Dylan Thomas centenary. "92Y is proud to mark the inaugural Dylan Day by sharing this recording once more," the...

BBC Scotland seeks first Poet in Residence
May 14, 2015 | 2:25 pm

p02qy22zGiven the hostility in some nationalist quarters in Scotland to the BBC and its coverage of the recent independence referendum, it may be a surprising time to see this, but BBC Scotland is inviting applications for "the post of BBC Scotland’s inaugural Poet in Residence: a unique opportunity for an early career poet, based in Scotland, to undertake a three month residency at BBC Scotland, working with BBC teams to bring poetry to audiences across Scotland." Launched "in collaboration with the Scottish Poetry Library," the opportunity is open for submissions until June 12th, with the actual residency to "begin in...

Emeryville finds: house your poets, or lose them
April 23, 2015 | 10:25 am

Here's a piece of advice for local and national authorities: If you're going to introduce a high-minded Poet Laureate program, make sure you can actually hold on to your cultural resource and not lose them to your own ruinous real estate trends. Because that's what has happened in the case of Emeryville, CA, which has seen Poet Laureate Sarah Kobrinsky driven out of Emeryville by - according to one report - a rent-racking landlord who also happens to be a city planning official. The report singles out a 38 percent rent increase for Sarah Kobrinsky and her family, courtesy of a...

Poetry on rails with the PoetTrain, kulturBOT
April 20, 2015 | 3:25 pm

Canada is in the middle of an epic month for poetry with some of the most magical manifestations of mechanized minstrelry ever made, as the Great Canadian PoetTrain Tour hits the rails to celebrate National Poetry Month, carrying, among its passenger list of a score or so poets, my kulturBOT 3.0, a "robotic artwork created by David Harris Smith and Frauke Zeller," designed to compose verse to accompany the tour. my kulturBOT 3.0, a "‘self-publishing’ robot" that looks rather like a cross between a Roomba and the BB-8 rolling droid from the new Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie, "will produce...

Grave of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s muse Fanny Cornforth discovered
April 15, 2015 | 4:25 pm

Victorian Pre-Raphaelite poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti is almost as celebrated for his verse as his painting - and renowned too for the succession of lovely models and muses who appear in his art, and who apparently inspired work in both media. One was Fanny Cornforth, the blacksmith's daughter who became his model and lover, and whose grave has just reportedly been discovered. Rossetti first took up with Cornforth in 1858, while he was still involved with Elizabeth Siddal, his longtime companion, and ultimately, wife, who committed suicide in 1862. Cornforth became his fulltime housekeeper after Siddal's death, as well as...

Owen Sheers on track to build profile of Welsh poetry
February 15, 2015 | 2:25 pm

As a proud scion of one (predominantly) Celtic nation, I'm glad to see literature and poetry winning more recognition and prestige in another. So it's great to announce that Welsh poet Owen Sheers has been shortlisted for the 2015 St David Awards, "celebrating exceptional people in Wales," which "annually recognise and celebrate the exceptional achievements of people in Wales. They acknowledge people who are making a real difference for this country – either at home or abroad. They are great marks of distinction and the highest accolades that Welsh Government confers on our citizens nationally." Sheers's literary track record, both in...

The origins of Auld Lang Syne – the world’s most popular poem
December 31, 2014 | 10:25 am

"Auld Lang Syne" is a song you'll hear the world over, from Tokyo to Tashkent. (And after many years in Asia, I can testify to that.) Chances are that a fair slice of the world's population, of multiple ethnicities, will be either singing it or hearing it at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. That arguably makes it the single poem with the widest dissemination in the world. Even South Korea's national anthem was sung to its tune, until a new one was composed. And I'm proud to remind everyone of its Scottish origins, courtesy of Robert Burns. As...

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...

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