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Poetry news from the month of April. Just what the doctor ordered.
A Month of Poetry
There were readings, slams and competitions galore, accompanied by the predictable hand-wringing over whether poetry should be read for twelve months of the years rather than just one.
A highlight this year was the Dear Poet project, in which members of the public were encouraged to pen handwritten letters to poets in response to reading their poems.
April 18 marked Poem in Your Pocket Day, when people were encouraged to carry a poem (yes, you guessed it, in their pocket) and share it with others throughout the day. People shared their poem on Twitter using #pocketpoem.Boston Bombers
Amidst all the poetry celebrations the big story in America was of course the horror of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Among other things the events of April 15 prompted the musician Amanda Palmer to write a poem from the perspective of one of the suspects.
A Poem for Dzhokhar caused shockwaves on Twitter and the web and countless newspaper and magazines wrote editorials poring over the rights and wrongs of Palmer’s approach.There’s an App for That
Poetry, you say? There’s an app for that! Penguin Classics has teamed up with app developer inkle to create an iPhone/iPad app called Poems by Heart from Penguin Classics. It prompts you to fill in missing words in poems and to recite poems back by heart.
Clampdown in Turkey
A Turkish pianist has been convicted for insulting Islam and offending Muslims in his Twitter posts. Fazil Say quoted the eleventh century poet Omar Khayyam, who poked fun at an Islamic version of the afterlife.
Say’s conviction is the latest in a series of trials in Turkey against writers, intellectuals and journalists.
From Franco’s Clutches
The poem ‘Poet in New York,’ left as a manuscript on his editor’s desk by Spain’s famous poet Federico García Lorca the day before he traveled to Granada and was later murdered by one of Franco’s death squads, has gone on public display for the first time in a major exhibition of García Lorca’s work at New York’s Public Library.
April was another bumper month for landmark poetry auctions:
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered for his Sherlock Holmes detective stories. So news that a signed manuscript of a patriotic poem he wrote has gone on sale attracted some interest. The poem was written in 1915 and is entitled ‘Ypres.’
- A rare manuscript of a Winston Churchill poem was auctioned in London. It is the only poem he is known to have written as an adult.
- A manuscript on which Thomas Hardy set one of his poems to music has been sold for £5,000.
- A rare Charlotte Brontë poem sold for an unexpectedly high £92,450. She wrote the poem, ‘I’ve Been Wandering in the Greenwoods,’ at her home in Haworth, West Yorkshire.
- John Keats‘s last handwritten poem, ‘I stood tiptoe on a little hill,’ smashed its estimate too, taking over £180,000 at auction.
- A John Clare poem was sold for £13,750, more than three times the amount expected.
- Arthur Sze won the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize for gifted writers deserving of greater attention. Sze has written eight collections in total.
And finally, I’ve picked out a couple of interesting-looking poetry book releases from April.
- Stars and Stripes by Glyn Maxwell. The Economist describes it as “a strange mix of the dark and the arresting.” The Guardian says the poems are “funny, wry and mutli-faceted.”
- Dear World and Everyone In It: New Poetry in the UK, edited by Nathan Hamilton, is an anthology of contemporary poetry. The Guardian praises Hamilton’s “editorial courage” and considers that it might be “the friendliest contemporary poetry anthology ever.”