Poetry News – Summer 2020

The Summer 2020 issue of Poetry News – collated remotely, of course – explores the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on poets, poetry, and cultural organisations. Managers of events, workshops, reading series and heritage spaces have had to adapt, with some positive outcomes amidst the wider difficulties. We hear from Poetry By Heart, Keats-Shelley House, poetry film-makers, a Teacher Trailblazer, young poets, and Poetry Society Stanza groups on their experience of the ‘new normal’.

In the global grief and outrage following the death of George Floyd, poetry has been a powerful and much-shared means of expression – Helen Bowell reports how individuals and organisations are using poetry to witness, protest and fundraise for important causes, as well as calling for greater equality and representation within the industry. An interview between Sasha Dugdale and Safiya Sinclair, discussing injustice, racism, and the problems and possibilities of literary language, offers a searing example of the poetry of witness.

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award winners’ anthology, Your Voice Crosses the Ocean, comes free with this issue of Poetry News and demonstrates how passionately young poets are engaging with the world around them. The deadline for the 2020 competition is coming up soon – 31 July – and we carry a last call for entries.

We announce in this issue the launch of the 2020 National Poetry Competition, with delightfully quirky artwork by Arna Miller, and offer an insight into what judges Neil Astley, Jonathan Edwards and Karen McCarthy Woolf are looking for. We also share lively interviews with the winners of the Hamish Canham and Geoffrey Dearmer Prizes.

Poetry leaps off the page in many stories in this issue. There’s a piece by Pete Bearder introducing SWEAR, a new body dedicated to the study and teaching of performance poetry, and a report from Helen Dewbery and Chaucer Cameron on their online poetry film workshops. Favourite poems have been contested on Twitter in the latest @PoetrySociety #classicpoemcup and there’s a chance to read your poems aloud for The Poetry Archive.

And as always, we bring news from competitions and book prizes, including an awe-inspiring list of prizes won by members. There are details of the 2020 Stanza Poetry Competition and the Autumn members’ poems competition, judged by Heather Williamson and Moniza Alvi respectively, along with an inspiring sextet of members’ poems on the theme of ‘winning’, selected and introduced by Rishi Dastidar.

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