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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!

The Restored Manuscript of Ariel [Source: Flickr Creative Commons © Père Ubu]

The Restored Manuscript of Ariel
[Source: Flickr Creative Commons © Père Ubu]

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.

More Plagiarism

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.

The Cambridge Polar Museum, one of the inspirations for the project [Source: Flickr Creative Commons © Kake Pugh]
The Cambridge Polar Museum, one of the inspirations for the project
[Source: Flickr Creative Commons © Kake Pugh]

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:

Book Releases

Last by not least, here are a couple of highlights from the poetry books published during May.