John Cooper Clarke: ‘I didn’t want to quit heroin’


This post is by Tiernan Phipps from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




While conceding the drug was ‘fabulous the first time’, the veteran performer has one overwhelming message: don’t do it

John Cooper Clarke, the poet and performer who became famous during the punk rock era of the late 1970s, has said he didn’t want to quit taking heroin and weaned himself off the drug for the sake of society rather than for his own health.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, Clarke recalled the addiction which dominated much of his life in the 1980s, when he was living in a flat in Brixton, south London, with Nico, the late singer and muse of the Velvet Underground.

Continue reading...

From Ted Hughes to HG Wells: Jeanette Winterson picks the best books about the moon


This post is by Jeanette Winterson from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Fifty years since Apollo 11 landed, the novelist shares her favourite books and poems about Earth’s mysterious satellite

There she is, 239,000 miles from Earth. A lover’s moon, a poet’s moon, a painted moon, made of green cheese, home to the Man in the Moon, visible above the lights of Moscow and Manhattan, Tokyo and London. Hanging as the silent guardian of rivers and woods. Symbol of the mystery of the universe.

None of this has changed since Apollo 11 landed on that broken silent surface 50 years ago. The moon is just as familiar and just as remote. The mythical and magical moon, the lunatic moon that drives men mad, Earth’s moon, lifting tides and raising sap.

Continue reading...

Ilya Kaminsky: ‘Deaf culture is such a beautiful thing’


This post is by Claire Armitstead from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Until his family migrated to the US when he was 16, the Ukrainian-born poet lived without sound. He discusses his family’s persecution and his first collection in a decade

Ilya Kaminsky has only published two poetry collections in 15 years, but his second, Deaf Republic, has been hailed as “a contemporary epic”, “a perfectly extraordinary book” from a poet described by the writer Garth Greenwell as “the most brilliant of his generation, one of the world’s few geniuses”. The man who has attracted all this hyperbole has a wraparound smile, and responds to a photographer’s demand to look more animated by reciting poetry in Russian and English. “Here is some Mandelstam,” he says. “Now I am going to give you some Emily Dickinson.” His speech drags slightly and he is apologetic about his accent: “After all this time, it should really be better,” he says, “but I only ...

‘A unique and slightly mad effort’: mapping the UK in poetry


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A national community arts project, where poems are matched to precise locations, is reinventing a 17th-century classic for the digital age

Pinned just west of Marsden, Yorkshire on a 17th-century map of the UK, is a poem by the UK’s new poet laureate, Simon Armitage. “The sky has delivered / its blank missive. / The moor in coma.” Move west, to the Isle of Man, and the poet is a little less well known – she’s dubbed herself Mrs Yorkshire the Baking Bard – but the sense of place is just as strong (and the rhymes are better, too): “I climbed Maughold Head as the morning sun rose / And the darkness surrendered to light / Where the buttery bloom of the golden gorse grows / And adventurous seabirds take flight.”

The poems – two of almost 2,000, and growing – are part of the Places of Poetry ...

Poem of the week: Apology by William Morris


This post is by Carol Rumens from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Opening the practical socialist’s 42,000-line epic The Earthly Paradise, this is a pithy tribute to the consolations of poetry

Apology, from The Earthly Paradise

Of Heaven or Hell I have no power to sing,
I cannot ease the burden of your fears,
Or make quick-coming death a little thing,
Or bring again the pleasure of past years,
Nor for my words shall ye forget your tears,
Or hope again for aught that I can say,
The idle singer of an empty day.

Continue reading...

The best recent poetry – review roundup


This post is by Ben Wilkinson from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky; The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran; Significant Other by Isabel Galleymore; Truth Street by David Cain

“The deaf don’t believe in silence,” proclaims a supplementary note in Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic (Faber, £10.99), shortlisted for this year’s Forward prize for best collection. “Silence is the invention of the hearing.” Falling somewhere between poetry collection and morality play, this unusual book’s episodic vignettes form a narrative that explores how we think about silence – as rebellion, but also as fearful failure to act: “We lived happily during the war / and when they bombed other people’s houses, we / protested / but not enough”. Kaminsky, who lost most of his hearing at the age of four, left the former Soviet Union as a teenager and was granted asylum in the US; his tale of upheaval in an occupied territory speaks to ...

Lines Off by Hugo Williams review – fascinating reflections on body and mind


This post is by Kate Kellaway from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Inspired by a spell in hospital, Hugo Williams confronts the body in crisis with irresistible style

Hugo Williams’s “lines off” – a stage direction – were written during a period in which he had dialysis, followed by a kidney transplant. Hospitals are dramas in themselves – operating theatres appropriately named. In Transplant 2014, the surgeon is poised to give “the performance of a lifetime” (and let us not forget, Williams once worked as a theatre critic). But sickness and the surgeon’s knife do not necessarily make great poetry. What matters is Williams’s own writerly performance, his ability to rally while undergoing the trials of Job. It is the gallantry of his writing that moves. The raffish intelligence that makes all his poetry a pleasure to read does not desert him in extremis. There is – thank the NHS – never any sense of his being diminished on the page.

His ...

Surge by Jay Bernard review – the painful echoes of Britain’s Black radical past


This post is by Sandeep Parmar from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




An archive of black radical British history is explored against the backdrop of the Grenfell and Windrush scandals

For those readers of Jay Bernard’s debut Surge who are not familiar with the historical event to which it responds, there is a carefully detailed author’s foreword. On 18 January 1981, 13 black teenagers were killed in a house fire that engulfed a birthday party at 439 New Cross Road in south-east London. A subsequent apparent suicide, driven by grief, would bring the final death toll to 14. The cause of the New Cross Fire – it may have been a hate crime – has never been determined and the governmental silence that followed (prompting the refrain at the time “13 dead, nothing said”), in addition to hostile, haphazard official investigations, speaks to a long history of racism in Britain. Later that year, uprisings against police discrimination in Brixton, Toxteth and elsewhere ...

Activist held in US after reciting poem attacking immigration rules


This post is by Alison Flood from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




American Civil Liberties Union files court petition arguing that the detention of Jose Bello violates the first amendment

A student activist who was arrested in California 36 hours after reading a poem critical of immigration policy is being supported by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is arguing that his arrest violates the first amendment.

Jose Bello read the poem, Dear America, at a public forum held by the Kern County board of supervisors in May. Written after his detention by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in 2018, the poem reads: “We demand our respect. We want our dignity back. / Our roots run deep in this country, now that’s a true fact … We don’t want your jobs. We don’t want your money. / We’re here to work hard, pay taxes, and study.”

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: To a Gentleman … by Elizabeth Carter


This post is by Carol Rumens from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A plea from the 18th century to preserve the shaded peace of a tree-lined walk folds some feminism into its classical allusions

To a Gentleman, on his Design of Cutting Down a Shady Walk

In plaintive Notes, that tun’d to Woe
The sadly sighing Breeze,
A weeping Hamadryad mourn’d
Her Fate-devoted Trees.

Continue reading...

Jackie Kay and Tracy K Smith: what did one poet laureate say to the other?


This post is by Killian Fox from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




From being a public figure to poetry in the age of Trump, from old prejudice to new audiences: when US poet laureate Tracy K Smith met Jackie Kay, Scotland’s makar, they had a lot to talk about…

“There are so many things that you get asked to do,” says Jackie Kay of her role as makar, or poet laureate of Scotland, “that you think, God, wouldn’t it be great to be one of those artists who have 10 or 15 people working for them and they all make this huge big painting? I’d love to have mini-makars. I’d give them this line to do and that commission, because there isn’t really enough of you to do everything you’re asked. It’s just not possible. I’m only the one makar.”

Luckily this makar, the third since the position was established by the Scottish parliament in 2004, has found time to meet ...

Alice Oswald elected Oxford professor of poetry by huge margin


This post is by Richard Lea from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Oswald will be the first woman to serve in the role, established three centuries ago

Alice Oswald has won the race to be Oxford’s latest professor of poetry. She will be the first woman to serve in the position, established more than 300 years ago.

Celebrated for their exploration of nature and myth, Oswald’s nine books of poetry have already brought her prizes including the TS Eliot, Griffin and Costa poetry awards. The former poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy has hailed her as “the best UK poet now writing, bar none”, while Jeanette Winterson has called her Ted Hughes’s “rightful heir”, a poet not “of footpaths and theme parks, but the open space and untamed life that waits for us to find it again”.

Continue reading...

Faber & Faber: by Toby Faber review – the untold story of a publishing giant


This post is by John Mullan from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




They turned down Ulysses and Animal Farm, but still shaped 20th‑century literature

All publishing houses have archives, but for anyone interested in 20th-century literature the archive of Faber & Faber is a fabled treasure house. This is the firm that was, as Toby Faber puts it, “midwife at the birth of modernism”. In 1924 Faber’s grandfather, Geoffrey Faber, aspiring poet and fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, had been installed as chairman of the Scientific Press, recently inherited by another All Souls fellow, Maurice Gwyer. It published mostly books and journals for nurses. Geoffrey Faber renamed it and started making it into a literary publisher. Within his first year he had installed TS Eliot as a fellow director and acquired his backlist.

The firm would go on to publish Ezra Pound, WH Auden and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Then Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, ...

Faber & Faber: by Toby Faber review – the untold story of a publishing giant


This post is by John Mullan from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




They turned down Ulysses and Animal Farm, but still shaped 20th‑century literature

All publishing houses have archives, but for anyone interested in 20th-century literature the archive of Faber & Faber is a fabled treasure house. This is the firm that was, as Toby Faber puts it, “midwife at the birth of modernism”. In 1924 Faber’s grandfather, Geoffrey Faber, aspiring poet and fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, had been installed as chairman of the Scientific Press, recently inherited by another All Souls fellow, Maurice Gwyer. It published mostly books and journals for nurses. Geoffrey Faber renamed it and started making it into a literary publisher. Within his first year he had installed TS Eliot as a fellow director and acquired his backlist.

The firm would go on to publish Ezra Pound, WH Auden and James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Then Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes, ...

Joy Harjo is first Native American named US poet laureate


This post is by Associated Press from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




Oklahoma-born, Muscogee Creek Nation member who helped tell an ‘American story’ has been in the wings for a long time

Poet, musician, author Joy Harjo has been appointed as the new US poet laureate, the first Native American to be named to the post.

The Oklahoma-born, Muscogee Creek Nation member has been in the wings for this role for a long time.

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: The Bluff by Jamie McKendrick


This post is by Carol Rumens from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A sharply observed portrait of a comically foreign creature is shadowed by unease about its future

The Bluff

The newt that plays so delicately dead
must be on the qui vive unless terror
just flicks the switch. Its limbs go limp,
Its upturned orange underbelly over-ripe:
a toxic flag unfurled from the beyond.
– Clubbed fingers, clammy green and spectral,
appear to have slipped off the frets
of a miniature guitar.

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: The Bluff by Jamie McKendrick


This post is by Carol Rumens from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A sharply observed portrait of a comically foreign creature is shadowed by unease about its future

The Bluff

The newt that plays so delicately dead
must be on the qui vive unless terror
just flicks the switch. Its limbs go limp,
Its upturned orange underbelly over-ripe:
a toxic flag unfurled from the beyond.
– Clubbed fingers, clammy green and spectral,
appear to have slipped off the frets
of a miniature guitar.

Continue reading...

Poem of the week: The Bluff by Jamie McKendrick


This post is by Carol Rumens from Books | The Guardian


Click here to view on the original site: Original Post




A sharply observed portrait of a comically foreign creature is shadowed by unease about its future

The Bluff

The newt that plays so delicately dead
must be on the qui vive unless terror
just flicks the switch. Its limbs go limp,
Its upturned orange underbelly over-ripe:
a toxic flag unfurled from the beyond.
– Clubbed fingers, clammy green and spectral,
appear to have slipped off the frets
of a miniature guitar.

Continue reading...