|Depp to Play Wilmot
|Hollywood super star Johnny Depp will
play John Wilmot, the Earl of Rochester in
the forthcoming film The Libertine. Wilmot, regarded as the
bad boy of English poetry was famous for his womanising and
drinking. He kidnapped his wife to be in a coach-and-six and boasted
of being continuously drunk for five years. Lancashire comedian
Johnny Vegas will play Wilmot's fellow roisterer Charles Sackville
(Earl of Dorset).
|Dylan Love Letter
|A passionate love letter from Dylan
Thomas to his fiancée Caitlin Macnamara
has sold for £7200 at auction . The two-page handwritten note -
signed with seven kisses and a postscript from the heavy drinker
which reads "I have to be abstemious" - was the last written by
Thomas to Caitlin before they wed in 1937.
|Bodleian Bid for Larkin Letters. Dec
|The Bodleian library is trying to raise funds to
purchase a collection of 2000 letters written by Larkin to Monica
Jones – his life-long friend /lover/muse and final years carer and
companion. The letters, which were written at the rate of 2-3 per
week over many decades, give a fascinating insight into Larkin’s
personality – showing him to be a more romantic and affectionate
character than was previously thought. (Although Maeve Brennan’s
book The Philip Larkin I Knew also showed this side of the
Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate and president of the
Philip Larkin Society, is backing the appeal.
For all the latest Larkin news visit the
|Van Der Graaf Generator Reform!!!
|(I know this isn't poetry news.... but
what the hell.) Following the appearance of the full band at one of
Hammill's solo gigs in 2003 (to play the classic Still Life)
the boys are reforming and a gig is planned for May 6th 2005 at the
Royal Festival Hall in London. The line up will be the original:
Peter Hammill (voice-meister, vox, guitar, pianos), Hugh Banton
(organs, bass pedals), Guy Evans (drums) and David Jackson (sax).
Plans for the reformation were nearly scuppered earlier this year
due to Hammill's heart attack (see below for more info). However,
the great man is recovering quickly and things are now back on
track, including a double CD of new material. Check out
vandergraafgenerator.co.uk for more info.
|Obituary - Michael Donaghy
|Donaghy was brought up in the South
Bronx, USA but moved permanently to the UK in 1985. He was a skilful
poet whose influences included: Mac-Neice, Frost, Browning and
Marvell. He was adept at using traditional metrical forms and also
an accomplished performer of his own work. He was also a talented
tin whistle and bodhran player and regularly performed with his
traditional Irish group the Slip Gigolos. Donaghy died of a
brain haemorrhage on September 17, 2004. He was only fifty years
|National Poetry Day, October 7th 2004
|This year National Poetry Day falls on
Thursday October 7th and takes as its theme food. So why not 'seize the day' and
write a sonnet about sausages or a haiku about haggis and
post it on our forum.
Events on the day include John Hegley on a farm, Gillian Clarke at
the Helyar Arms in East Coker (see T.S. Eliot)
and a Mad Hatter's Tea Party at Keat's house in London.
|Thomas Hardy and the Cornish Floods -
August 17th 2004
|The village of Boscastle in Cornwall -
devastated by yesterday's floods - was immortalised by Hardy under
the thinly disguised name of Castle Boterel (read his famous love
In 1870 Hardy came to St Juliot near
Boscastle to restore the dilapidated village church. It was here
that he met and fell in love with Emma Gifford (his future wife).
Hardy and Emma frequently walked and picnicked along the banks of
the River Valency. In fact, his poem Under the Waterfall
was inspired by Emma dropping a picnic tumbler into the river.
Poem Discovered - August 2004
|Canadian based historian Prof Trevor
Tolley (as opposed to Jake Balokowsky) has unearthed a previously
undiscovered Larkin poem in the vaults of Hull University (where
Larkin was librarian). The poem entitled And Yet was written
by Larkin in 1948 and therefore comes after his Yeats inspired
The North Ship but precedes the poems that were eventually to
make up The Less Deceived.
It was written during a short spell when he worked as a librarian
at Leicester University and when he socialised (?) with Kingsley
Amies and met Monica Jones - his lover and final years companion.
The poem which is not available yet will be published in a new
compilation of Larkin's work - edited by Prof Tolley and published
|MacNeice.... The Master's Voice
|Check out the new video clips on the
BBC Northern Ireland Louis MacNeice page which contain some
wonderful recordings of the great man reading his own poems.
Fascinating to hear his mellifluous, upper-class voice on such
classics as Snow or Sunlight on the Garden. Well worth
|Saddam the Bard - July 2004
|Apparently, while awaiting trial, Saddam
Hussein has taken up writing poetry. Furthermore, it is reported
that his favourite subject matter is President Bush. Maybe he's
working on some devastating piece of political satire that will
topple the western world? Then again, if we believe Auden: ' poetry
makes nothing happen: it survives/ In the valley of its making where
executives/ Would never want to tamper'.
|Hammill's 49th - July 2004
|Ex Van Der Graaf Generator front man
Peter Hammill has released his 49th album Incoherence.
Shortly after completing the recording, the 55 year old cult hero
suffered a major heart attack but is fortunately now recovering.
Hammill was recently quoted as saying: 'The music world has gone
IKEA - one size. And I'm a bespoke furniture maker. Not selling
many, and only to people who find me.'
Find out more about the man
who John Lydon cited as the originator of punk rock at the
Peter Hammill web site.
|Honorary Degree for Uncle Bob - 23
|Legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan,
today received an honorary degree from the University of St Andrews.
He has previously only accepted one other honorary degree and that
was from Princeton University in 1970. Apparently, while waiting for
the big moment, the great man yawned and leafed his way
through the programme.
(Will anyone ever write a better album than Blood on the
|I Wish I'd Looked After My Teeth -
|MBE for Pam Ayres! Surely some mistake?
The Next Generation of Poets - June
|A panel of six judges ( including
Andrew Motion the Poet Laureate) have selected 20 poets who they
consider to be the most exciting writing in Britain today. The
poets, ranging in age from 29 to 50, were selected from a field of
156 applicants. All entrants had to submit one collection of poetry
and not to have been published prior to 1994. The 20 'Next
Generation' poets are: Patience Agbabi,
Alice Oswald, Amanda Dalton, Pascale Petit, Nick Drake,
Jacob Polley, Jane Draycott, Deryn
Rees-Jones, Paul Farley, Maurice Riordan,
Leontia Flynn, Robin
Robertson, Matthew Francis, Owen Sheers, Sophie Hannah, Henry Shukman, Tobias Hill, Catherine Smith, Gwyneth Lewis and Jean
The competition, run by the Arts Council and the
Poetry Book Society, was an attempt to get the public to read living
poets. Apparently, 9 out of 10 of all poetry collections sold in the
UK are by dead poets. (Perhaps this says something about the state
of contemporary British poetry?)
If you have a view on this or would like to comment on any of the
'Next Generation' poets then why not visit our new forum
Poets' Corner and
have your say?
200th Anniversary of Père-Lachaise Cemetery, Paris - May 2004
|This month sees the anniversary of the
founding of the famous Père-Lachaise Cemetery in east Paris.
It was originally created to provide Parisians with an alternative
to a Roman Catholic burial. Its famous dead include: novelists
Balzac and Proust and poets Paul Eluard and
Oscar Wilde. Wilde's tomb has become a Mecca for gay tourists
who come to show their respect by kissing his name with lipstick.
Jim Morrison (of The Doors) is also buried here. His tomb
receives so many visitors that the authorities have taken the
unprecedented step of erecting a metal barrier around it.
|New Oxford Poetry Professor - May
|Christopher Ricks has been appointed as
the new Professor of Poetry at Oxford University - succeeding the
Irish poet and academic Paul Muldoon. Ricks, who is Professor of
Humanities at Boston University, has produced critical works on many
English poets including Tennyson,
Milton and A. E.
Housman. He has also produced a study of the lyrics of Bob Dylan
entitled: 'Dylan's Visions of Sin'. Ricks will give his first
lecture in the Michaelmas Term 2004.
|Spike Milligan has the last laugh (or
does he?) May 30th 2004
|Two years after his death, an agreement has finally been reached over the
wording on Spike Milligan's headstone. Milligan, the great
zany comedian and poet, requested that the words: "I told
you I was ill" appear on his stone. However, the Chichester diocese and
members of Milligan's family were unhappy with this epitaph.
An agreement has now been reached for it to be included, but written
in Gaelic!! The inscription reads: "Duirt me leat go
raibh me breoite" (Loses something in translation,
|Sponsor an Albatross! May 2004
|This is a project endorsed by David Bellamy to
help highlight the plight of Albatrosses which are dying as a
result of long line fishing. One of the birds in the race is called
The Ancient Mariner after
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by S.T. Coleridge. In
Coleridge's poem, the ancient mariner shoots an albatross and
thereby brings down a curse on his ship. Subsequently the dead bird
is hung round his neck until the curse is lifted.
|Celebrate Shakespeare's Birthday (23rd April) - Read a
|Shakespeare was born on 23rd April 1564 - 440 years ago. He also
died on 23rd April in 1616. To celebrate the great man of English
literature why not dip into his
sonnets - reproduced here in full. For those unfamiliar with the
sonnets, numbers 18, 29, 30, 31, 55, 60, 64, 65, 73, 87, 97, 98 and
116 are particularly recommended.
|Poets on TV
|The University of California Television is celebrating 'National
Poetry Month' in April, with an outstanding line-up of poetry
related programming not found anywhere else on television. The event
will feature readings and interviews with leading poets from around
the world - including Billy Collins (the current U.S. Poet Laureate
and Caribbean poet Kamau Brathwaite.
|200th Anniversary of 'Daffodils'
|This year is the 200th anniversary of
by William Wordsworth. It was
written in 1804 and published a few years later. It was re-written
in 1815 when a new stanza was added and the words "golden daffodils"
replaced "dancing daffodils."
|A Tale of Two Suffolks - 16th March 2004
|George Wallace has just been appointed as Poet laureate
of Suffolk County, New York, USA. By strange coincidence, Mr Wallace
previously lived in Suffolk England when he worked as a hospital
administrator on the Lakenheath air base. It was while living in
England that Mr Wallace first developed a serious interest in
writing poetry. He now hopes to foster relations between the two
Suffolks with a scheme where library borrowers on either side of the
Atlantic can assess books by poets from the respective counties.
Suffolk, England, boasts George Crabbe and
Edward Fitzgerald while Suffolk, USA,
was the birth place of Walt Whitman.
|New Poet Laureate for Scotland - 16th Feb 2004
|Professor Edwin Morgan has been named as "The Scots
Maker" by first minister Jack McConnell. This post is the equivalent
of the Scottish poet laureate.
Morgan, previously a lecturer at Glasgow University, was offered
the unpaid position for three years to represent and promote poetry in
Morgan is regarded by many as Scotland's finest contemporary
poet. He has been writing for 60 years and his collections include
The Second Life and From
Glasgow to Saturn. Many of poems evoke the Scottish urban
Eighty-three year old Morgan, who is currently suffering from
cancer, has promised to speak his mind.
See other Scottish poets: Robert Burns
and Hugh MacDiarmid.