Grief and Poetry/Museum Anniversary/Rita Dove – Poetry News Roundup February 22nd

In today’s poetry new round-up we take a look at the role poetry can play in moments of grief. We also look at the museum that is celebrating its 250th anniversary with big refurbishment plans and the poet Rita Dove who will be giving a commencement address and receiving an honorary degree at Smiths College in May.

Vigil for School Shooting Victims

When grief and sorrow are at their strongest, words of comfort can often be found in poetry.  On Tuesday night Phil Lesh the bassist of the band Grateful Dead hosted a candlelight vigil for the victims of Americas latest high school shooting.

During the vigil, Lesh quoted lines from several poems that expressed not only his feelings but also those of the people present. He began by quoting from “No man is an Island” by John Donne, he followed this up with several lines from Dylan Thomas’s poem “Do not go gentle into that good night”. The powerful sentiments echoing from both poems of young lives snuffed out violently before it was their time.

At the end of the vigil, the band closed with an acoustic set. A total of 17 students and staff members lost their lives in the shooting at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Cowper and Newton Museum Receives National Lottery Grant

The Cowper and Newton Museum in Olney, near Milton Keynes, marked the 250th anniversary of the date that William Cowper, the 18th Century poet, moved to the building that now houses the town’s museum last week. They have been awarded a Heritage Lottery Fund of £93,800 that will be used to refurbish the museum. The poet moved to Olney in 1768.

The grant will cover around 85% of the expected costs of the refurbishment, the remainder will come from Milton Keynes Borough who will contribute £5000, with the rest being met by funds from the museums budget and through local fundraising efforts. The refurbishments to the museum which is home to artefacts of William Cowper – who was a favourite poet of Jane Austen – and also John Newton, a former slave trader and writer of Amazing Grace, will see a number of improvements to the main rooms as well as new permanent displays and a visitor orientation area.

It is hoped that once the refurbishments are complete the number of visitors to the museum will increase.

Two-Time US Poet Laureate to Deliver Commencement Address

On Sunday 20th May, the commencement address for the graduation ceremony at Smiths College, Northampton, Massachusetts will be given by Rita Dove.

Dove, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1987 and is a two-time US Poet Laureate will be amongst a number of people who will receive an honorary degree as part of the ceremony.

In 2011, President Obama presented Dove with the National Medal of Arts. She is also a recipient of the 1996 National Humanities Medal presented by President Bill Clinton and she also holds 25 honorary doctorates.

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