Poetry News – Autumn 2020

The autumn issue of Poetry News includes an interview with Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort. Shortlisted for a Forward Prize for her poem ‘Nocturne for a Moving Train’, first published in The Poetry Review, Valzhyna offers searing insights into the political situation in Belarus, language, violence, women’s voices and the qualities of metaphor.

We look ahead to National Poetry Day on 1 October, with a round-up of activities nationwide. This year’s theme of ‘Vision’ is also the theme of our members’ poems competition, judged by Moniza Alvi, who has chosen six insightful poems on the subject.

Time is ticking on the National Poetry Competition, and we offer a range of resources to inspire new poems ahead of the 31 October deadline. Prompts from Pascale Petit and Ella Frears and useful advice from Karen McCarthy Woolf are bound to kickstart a poem or two – and as a member, your second entry is free.

We give notice of The Poetry Society’s annual AGM on Monday 23 November, with information on how to attend virtually. Virtual events have become the norm by now – but what about imaginary ones? We bring news of a new initiative from Keats-Shelley House in Rome, asking people to dream up the best possible guest to seat next to Keats at a reimagined version of the ‘Immortal Dinner’ of 1817. Elsewhere, Sarah James explores the process of creating > Room, her emotive and immersive online multimedia poetry narrative, which offers rich, layered insights into her experience of diabetes.

The question of whether poetry will be mandatory for GCSE students has been a source of great concern for those who know the power of poetry in engaging young people. We asked secondary-school teacher Esther Sandys to give her view, and poet-educator Cheryl Moskowitz to share her experience of exploring the impact of Covid-19 with primary school pupils.

Our Young Poetry News section covers readings and successes by our Foyle Young Poets and Young Poets Networkers, and of our new plans for the annual Foyle ceremony. Helen Bowell offers a retrospective on the six moving years of the Timothy Corsellis Prize for work responding to the poets of the Second World War, which has now come to a close.

On the first birthday of the Members’ Area on The Poetry Society website, we remind readers of the wealth of resources available. We also share, as always, our members’ successes in recent competitions, as well as the activities of our Stanzas.

There’s our usual round-up of interesting poetic happenings: a new sculpture from poet Heather Phillipson on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square; a new canal-inspired poem by Ian Humphreys; the recently revealed fifty Forward Prize commendations, many of them members; new radio programmes, launches, editorial appointments and opportunities; and much, much more.

As the nights begin to draw in, put on the kettle, put up your feet and enjoy the autumn issue.

Poetry News connects members to the wider world of poetry. To receive a copy through your letterbox every quarter, simply join The Poetry Society.