#ComfortAndHope/Ondaatje Prize/Iqbal Anniversary – Poetry News Roundup April 22nd

Today’s poetry news roundup looks at #comfortandhope, the shortlist for the Ondaatje Prize and the death anniversary of Allama Iqbal.


We begin today’s poetry news round-up with a look at a couple more of the #comfortandhope articles from the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. At the end of last week, it was the turn of Martha Kearney who chose to read The Lake Isle of Innisfree by William Butler Yeats. The poem has special meaning to Kearney. Her late father recited it at her wedding and she believes that the beauty that is found in Yeats’ poetry can really show people how solace can be found in nature especially in times of adversity.

This week, the newsreader Justin Webb read Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken. He chose the poem because he believes that the best poetry is rather ambiguous, meaning different things to a range of people depending what time in their life they have reached, and he believes that this is exactly what this poem achieves.

Ondaatje Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for this years Ondaatje prize has been announced. The prize, which is worth £10,000, is run by the Royal Society of Literature. It is an annual prize and is awarded to a work of poetry, fiction or nonfiction – whichever best evokes the spirit of a particular place.

Robert Macfarlane has been Underland which was awarded the Wainwright nature writing prize last year. Elif Shafak  has been shortlisted for 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, which has previously been nominated for a Booker prize. The final shortlisted nomination belongs to Roger Robinson for A portable Paradise, which was previously won a T  S Eliot Prize.

The poet Jay Bernard, who was a 2017 winner of the Ted Hughes poetry prize, has also been nominated for his debut collection Surge. The judges believe that he is currently one of the most exciting young poets in the UK, and someone who we should be keeping a close eye on.

The wait will not be long for those writers who have reached the shortlist. The winner is to be announced on May 4th.

Death Anniversary of National Poet Marked

Pakistan has marked the 82nd anniversary of the death of Allama Iqbal, sometimes referred to as Iqbal Lahori, their national poet who died on 21st April 1938 in Lahore.

This year the marking of the anniversary of Iqbal’s passing was more low profile than previously due to the current lockdown situation as the government tries to contain the fast-increasing number of coronavirus cases in the country.

A number of different literary and social organisations turned to the internet to host online conferences and seminars in order to overcome the ban on gatherings whilst still paying homage.

Born in Sialkot City in the North East the poet is often referred to as the inceptor of Pakistan as he created the concept of a homeland for the Muslims of United India that was separate. His speech on the subject paved the way for the creation of Pakistan in 1947.

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