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Here, a little belatedly, but better late than never, is your news round up from January.
The big big story of January was the inauguration of the US president, Barack Obama. The Cuban-American Richard Blanco was chosen as the inauguration poet. He was the youngest, first Hispanic and first gay poet to speak at an inauguration. If nothing else, the occasion sparked a debate in the US on the purpose and relevance of poetry in modern life. The poem itself received mixed reviews. You can see a clip, read an excerpt, and link to more of Blanco’s poem’s here.
Christian Wiman announced that he would step down as editor of Poetry magazine, a post he’s fulfilled for over a decade. Poetry describes itself as “the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English speaking world.” In October 2012, we reported on the magazine’s 100th anniversary celebrations. The Poetry Foundation, which creates the magazine, has also just appointed a new president of its own.
Disney announced that the well-known TV stars Matt Smith (from Doctor Who) and Michelle Dockery (from Downton Abbey) would be reading poetry on its Disney Junior channel. BBC America has posted some clips.
The story that we reported last month about 17 year old who wrote a poem that appeared to praise the Sandy Hook murderer continued to be a focus in the American press after the student was suspended. The Week has tried to offer a balanced appraisal of the situation.
There was controversy in the UK as the winner of a regional poetry competition was found to have copied his work from another poet. Christian Ward describes himself as “imaginative” but submitted a poem, ‘The Deer at Exmoor,’ that was uncannily similar to Helen Mort’s ‘The Deer.’ You can read both poems here.
Radio 4 announced that it would broadcast Tony Harrison’s poem V, which is seen as a landmark poem in the UK but is rarely heard publicly due to many and extreme list of expletives it contains. Channel 4 received criticism for broadcasting a film version of the poem back in 1987.
A fragment of the only handwritten poem by John Keats still in private hands has been put up for auction. After the poet’s death, his close friend Charles Cowden Clarke cut up a manuscript of the poem ‘I Stood Tiptoe Upon a Little Hill’ into thirteen pieces. This is one of those thirteen fragments.
There was a plenty of attention given in India to a situation in Mumbai, where a police officer has written a controversial poem criticising protestors in Azad Maidan. Eventually the police apologised and initiated a probe. The officer has now apologised.
The latest Twitter sensation, @pentametron, is an automated account that retweets random user’s posts that they have unwittingly written in iambic pentameter and matches them into rhyming couplets. If you’re a Twitter fan you really must try this one out!
Finally, here’s a selection of some of the newly published books from January. The Havocs by Jacob Polley sounds vibrant and humorous, while Go Giants by Nick Laird is playful and ambitious and promises to be his most accomplished collection yet. Meanwhile, the major publishing event this month was the release of The Letters of T S Eliot: Volume 4.