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Poetry News from the month of December, all shipshape and ready for action.

Probably the story that attracted the most attention this month was the news that a San Francisco high school senior was suspended after writing a poem which appeared to sympathise with the gunman of the Sandy Hook School massacre.  The case raises questions about literal interpretations of poetry and authorial voice.

In the UK, a new schools competition is being introduced to encourage teenagers to learn poetry by heart.  Students will be asked to memorise and perform a poem.  Some saw this as a deliberate riposte to James Dyson’s criticism of literature education and “French lesbian poetry,” which we reported on in November.

In Rome, there was an exciting archaeological find.  An ancient 900-seat arts centre, built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, has been excavated.  The auditorium was built in 123 AD so people could listen to readings of poetry and philosophy.

James Franco, famous for the film 127 Hours, attracted plenty of coverage this month by announcing he is to publish a book of poems, though it’s not likely to come out until 2014.

Scottish poet Kathleen Jamie’s poem was chosen to be inscribed on woodwork and displayed at the newly restored Battle of Bannockburn monument.

The Guyana-born poet John Agard won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.  He is only the second black poet to win the award.

In December we bade farewell to the poet and former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Byron Johnson.

Finally, here is a quick look at some of the poetry books that were published in December.  The Seacunny by Gerard Woodward is considered to be eloquent, witty and beautiful.  Carol Ann Duffy has published a new selection of work by Sylvia Plath.  In Life Saving: Why We Need Poetry, Josephine Hart provides a beginner’s guide to the big guns that comprise the English canon, from Auden to Yeats.  There is also a New and Selected Poems of Penelope Shuttle.