Poetry’s Essential Communication

Some more poetry thoughts this week, as the Forward Foundation has announced its shortlist for the Forward Prize. On the shortlist for the best collection of 2021 is one name you might recognise, Tishani Doshi, author of ‘The Deliverer’. Her collection A God at the Door has received a number of very favourable reviews. Read one of them here.

One of the names making a particular stir for his nomination in the Best First Collection category is Caleb Femi, the former London Young People’s Laureate. A former teacher, he is driven by the idea that poetry is not a specialised, rarefied form of high art, but an essential form of communication. He has said, “I don’t see it as far-fetched to normalise poetry among all demographics of young people in London. Poetry is the one of the purest forms of conversation. At its best, it allows us to communicate from an honest and safe place. And young people deserve to be included in such spaces.” Read about Femi here,  and about all the Forward nominations here.

One of the challenges of being the actual Poet Laureate is that you are required to write ‘official’ poems for national occasions. As a poet who prides himself on being subversive, it was interesting to see how Simon Armitage would rise to that challenge. He wrote a poem in response to the death of Prince Philip, which the royal family have accompanied with their own montage of images. Watch the slideshow and hear the poem here:

Stepping back in time, you might also be interested in this short film about the Romantic poets. We associate Wordsworth particularly with the Lake District, but here, the connection between Wordsworth, his sister Dorothy and Coleridge with the Somerset landscape is explored.

We’ve considered poetic prizes and poetry as tribute to national figures. Caleb Femi talks about the importance of poetry as communication. What if that poetic communication is a key part of cultural identity, rather than an interesting arrangement of words you study for A Level? Read this piece about the threats to Uighur poetry and culture, as it is threatened with eradication in China.