actor, American, American football, Andrew Grieg, anniversary, Any Levy, Ariel, auction, book, Boston, Boston bombings, Boston Strong, Cambridge, Captain Scott, Carol Ann Duffy, Charles O Hartman, Christian Ward, competition, Daddy, David R Morgan, English, ESPN, feminism, Found at Sea, haiku, Heart's Yearnings, Ink Sweat and Tears, Jet's View from the Stanza, Jo Shapcott, Juliet Stevenson, Kate Birch, Larkin, manuscript, Mars, MAVEN, May, museum, NASA, news, Obama, Orkney Islands, Oscar Wilde, plagiarism, Poet Laureate, poetry, publisher, Richard Blanco, Rick Reilly, Roland Greene, Salt, scandal, Southbank Centre, sport, Sylvia Plath, The Guardian, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Thresholds
Poetry News from the month of May. Full of goodness and life.
A Publisher Withdraws
The big news this month, was from independent publisher Salt, who announced they would no longer be publishing single-author poetry collections due to a massive decrease in sales. Salt had become well-known for launching a number of successful poetry careers, making the announcement especially sad.
The news prompted numerous commentaries on the state of poetry and the changing face of poetry publishing, including this article in The Guardian.
A Poem for Mars
NASA has launched a poetry contest. To enter, you have to write a haiku that is a “message to Mars” and submit it by July 1. Three winning poems will be sent to Mars with the MAVEN mission in November.The competition is truly “out of this world!” (oh god did I really just say that?).
One of the worst poems in history was published this month by ESPN. ‘Jet’s View from the Stanza‘ by Rick Reilly is all about picking a football team. It’s extraordinarily bad and is therefore a must-read. The use of the word ‘demential’ to deliver a rhyme with ‘influential’ says it all.
Ariel: 50 Years On
It’s 50 years since Sylvia Plath‘s manuscript for Ariel was discovered on her desk. Actors and poets including Juliet Stevenson and Jo Shapcott gathered in London’s Southbank Centre to read the entire manuscript. What a great idea for a commemorative event!Plath herself, in a recording, read the collection’s most famous poem, “Daddy.”
Blanco and Boston
Richard Blanco, who wrote and performed Obama‘s inaugural poem back in January of this year, was commissioned to write an original piece for “Boston Strong,” the fundraising evening for victims of the Boston bombings.
The poetry world was rocked by another plagiarism scandal this month. Following on from the Christian Ward scandal that I reported on in January, the poet David R Morgan has admitted passing off numerous works as his own.
Kate Birch, of the online poetry site Ink, Sweat and Tears, broke the news after being contacted by US poet Charles O. Hartman, one of the victims of Morgan’s plagiarism. It’s made many people wonder just how widespread plagiarism is in the world of poetry.
Carol Ann Duffy, the UK poet laureate, unveiled 10 poems by 10 leading poets who were inspired by 10 museums in Cambridge, in the so-called Thresholds project. The poems covered a range of topics including Arctic foxes and slave ships.
All the poems can be viewed on the Thresholds website. It’s well worth a look.
Poems at Auction
Some of the major poetry auctions this month:
- A handwritten Philip Larkin poem about ‘love’ sold for £7,500.
- A handwritten poem by polar explorer Captain Scott, which poses a riddle about what sailors eat, sold for £3,000.
- ‘Heart’s Yearnings’ by Oscar Wilde sold for more than four times its estimate, gaining €80,000.
- A poem by Amy Levy, a Victorian feminist described as a ‘genius’ by Oscar Wilde, sold for £3,500.
Last by not least, here are a couple of highlights from the poetry books published during May.
- Found at Sea by Andrew Grieg, a book length poetic sequence set in the Orkney Islands. The Guardian says it is “a bold attempt at imbuing epic scope and adventure into a book-length sequence” but that “not all Grieg’s images catch fire with equal clarity.”
- The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, ed. Roland Greene. The Guardian says that the entries can be “a bit dry” but that “there is really no better book” if you want to know how poetry is put together.