Wilfred Owen centenary/Poet’s letter auction/UK Poet Laureate search – Poetry News Roundup 5th November

Today in our poetry news round up we bring you an article about the centenary of the death of Wilfred Owen, the poet’s letter that sold at auction and the search for the next UK Poet Laureate.

Centenary of War Poet’s Death Marked with Bugle

Yesterday marked the centenary of the death of Wilfred Owen, the World War One Poet. The occasion was marked with the sounding of the bugle that he had taken from a dead German soldier on the battlefield.

Owen is buried in Ors, Northern France, and on 4th November 2018 a ceremony was held which included the sounding of the bugle. He died just seven days before peace was declared on Armistice day. The ceremony also included the laying of wreaths.

The ceremony took place after a visit at dawn to the site where he was killed in the battle to cross the canal of Sambre-Oise.

The bugle was mentioned by Owen in a letter to his brother that he wrote in 1917, he referred to it as “loot”. Musician Heather Madeira Ni played “the Last Post” on the bugle, which has never been heard in public before, and is a very important piece of history associated with the poet.

Several of Owen’s poems were recited and there was also a reading of his final letter home.

The occasion was also marked in the UK with the lighting of 10,000 flames that had been placed in the currently empty moat of the Tower of London. It took a group of volunteers and members of the armed forces about 45 minutes to light all the flames which burned for around four hours. This ceremony, which is open to the public free of charge, will be repeated every night until Remembrance Sunday, as a mark of respect for those who gave their lives during World War One.

A specially commissioned installation of sound featuring some choral music as well as a reading form “Sonnets to a Soldier” by Mary Borden also accompanied the lighting of the flames.

Poets Suicide Letter Sells for £204,000

On 30th June 1845, the 24-year-old French poet Charles Baudelaire penned a letter to his lover, Jeanne Duval. In the letter he announced that he would kill himself, something that he tried to do later the same day but failed at.  He had been suffering money issues, having wasted all his inheritance, and attempted to take his life by stabbing himself in the chest.

Baudelaire lived 22 more years following his suicide attempt, during which time he produced his best work, dying of Syphilis in 1867.

The letter has been sold at auction for £204,000, to a private buyer. This is almost three times what it had been estimated at.

Carol Ann Duffy Prepares to Step Down

The poet Laureate is coming to the end of her time in the role and so the search for the next UK poet laureate has begun. Saturday saw the announcing of the carefully selected panel of experts, who have been chosen to guide the process.

Duffy was the first female to hold the role and a number of names of black and ethnic minorities poets have been mentioned as being strong candidates for her replacement, including Benjamin Zephaniah and Lemm Sissay.

The final decision will not be made until May 2019.

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