Poet Refuses Presidential Invite/Yeats Book’s Unusual Provenance – Poetry News Roundup 8th November

Today on My Poetic Side, we bring you articles about the poet who refused an invitation from the President and the rare Yeats book with an unusual provenance.

Poet Turns the President Down

The poet Rupi Kaur, who shot to fame several years ago with her Instagram poetry posts and subsequent self-published poetry book “Milk and Honey” has once again hit the headlines. This time it is because the Indian/Canadian poet has turned down an invitation from the President of the United States, Joe Biden, to celebrate Diwali at the White House.

Kaur is vocal on a number of social media platforms on a number of social and political issues and over the last couple of weeks has been very vocal about the situation that is unravelling between Israel and Palestine. Taking to X (formerly Twitter) she says that she had declined the invitation because she did not want to attend a function that an organisation that


was organising.

These remarks come after the revelation that the US has been funding Israel since the conflict began. Kaur sees Biden’s actions as completely the antitheses of what the festival represents and that she normally spends the day reflecting on what it means to fight against oppressors for freedom. She has called on the South Asian community within the US to do that same and to hold the country’s administration accountable for the atrocities which are taking place.

She has gone further and suggests that those who follow her sign petitions, join in with boycotts and also attend protest that are in support of a ceasefire. Earlier this year Kaur had her account on X suspended in India because of the Khalistan issue.

Yeats’ Play to go on Sale

Considered to be one of the biggest rarities in English literature, a signed copy of “Mosada,” the first play written by WB Yeats recently went on display for the very first time since 1956. The copy has been given a price tag of £125,000 and that is being attributed to a message from the dead.

The last time that the book went on display was 67 years ago at Trinity College Dublin. Over the weekend the copy was on sale at the Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair

The book was written by Yeats when he was 21, in 1886. It is a short verse play that had a very small print run. Only 100 copies were made of which it is thought that there are only 21 still in existence. Nine of these are signed.

This copy is one of the signed ones but the dedication in the book has been causing some issues, it appears to say,  “Mrs Zena Powell, from her friend, the author”. The problem has been that nobody has ever been able to find records of a person by the name, so the provenance of the book has always been questioned.

It has finally been discovered by a Yeats scholar that the inscription refers to Zena Vowell following the discovery of her name in a report of a séance dating back almost a century. This lead the scholar to an account of the “ghost” of Zena who spoke with a medium during a 1924 séance. Further detective work uncovered that she had been born in 1831 and it is believed that she may have been one of the subscribers who helped to fund the printing of Mosada.

This direct link has resulted in the £125,000 valuation for the book which last appeared at auction in 1962.

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