Eurovision Poet/Plath Play/Ondaatje Prize Awarded – Poetry News Roundup May 15th

Today’s poetry new round-up looks at the poet-inspired Eurovision song, a play about Sylvia Plath and the winner of the 2023 Ondaatje prize.

Austria’s Poet-Inspired Eurovision Entry

On Saturday, hordes of people across Europe were glued to their TV screens to watch Eurovision 2023. Hosted in Liverpool on behalf of last year’s winning country Ukraine the show promised to bring plenty of unusual songs, outlandish costumes, and plenty of surprises.

The Austrian delegation, duo Teya & Salena, took to the stage with their catchy tune titled “Who The Hell is Edgar,” something that many in the audience may well have been asking. The inspiration behind the song was none other than Edgar Allan Poe, the American poet, gothic writer and editor.

The song wasn’t specifically about the poet himself, of the Raven, for which he is particularly noted for in his writing but, in fact, had an altogether deeper meaning. The song was about the pair’s experiences as women within the music industry and how all too often, they are not credited for their expertise and hard work in the field.

Sylvia Plath Play Bring Attention to Clinical Depression

The play “Sylvia” written by Nikathil Athira, chronicles the life of the poet Sylvia Plath, her meeting with Ted Hughes and her eventual marriage to the poet laureate leading to her eventual suicide.

Based on the 2003 biopic of the same name, Athira attempts to dip into the troubled and complex life of Plath through the various stages of her life, her marriage and the birth of her children. The project was prompted by Athira’s own brush with clinical depression. She wanted to produce a play that would take the story of Plath to a wider audience.

At just 50 minutes in length, the play is not a long one, but it still manages to get its message across, with the feedback that has been received being incredibly positive.

Ondaatje Prize Winner 2023 Announced

The British-Cypriot poet Anthony Anaxagorou has been announced as the winner of this year’s Ondaatje Prize for his postcolonial collection of poetry. This is his third collection of poetry and has netted him the top prize of £10,000.

The judges described the collection as “pushing the confines of form and language.” They also felt that the poems in the collection didn’t sugar-coat the issues of the past.

This is an annual award that is run by the Royal Society of Literatures and seeks to recognise an outstanding work of poetry, fiction or nonfiction that offers a sense of place. Anaxagorous’s winning collection, Heritage Aesthetics, is a collection that looks at the topic of place and time within the exploration of present-day racism and British imperial history.

The entire collection is shaped by the poet’s own family history, which saw them migrating from Cyprus to the UK. Anaxagorou is in charge of “Out-Spoken”, a monthly music and poetry night that takes place in the Southbank Centre in London. In 2005 he created Out-Spoken Press which publishes poetry with a focus on the underrepresented voice. In 2019 he was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

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