Wordsworth Mass Reading/Oregon Poet Laureate – Poetry News Roundup April 28th

Today in our poetry news round-up we take a look at the mass reading of poetry by Wordsworth and the appointment of the 10th Oregon poet laureate.

Mass Readings Mark 250th Anniversary celebrations

Descendants of the poet William Wordsworth have been joined by several celebrities, including Brian Cox and Stephen Fry, as well as some members of the public to record a number of his poems.

“The World Is Too Much With Us” was read by both Fry and Cox whilst the actress Caroline Quentin read Lines Written in Early Spring.

Celebrities and actors were all very keen to assist in the venture, which was planned to mark the 250th anniversary of Wordsworth’s birth. His descendants are now appealing to the general public to help them create a living archive of the poet”s work by sending in their own readings of his poetry.

The project is called Wordsworth 250 and it began before the UK, and the rest of the world, went into lockdown because of the Coronavirus pandemic. The lockdown put paid to some of the celebrations that had been planned to take place in the Lake District and at Dove Cottage, the former home of the poet. When their plans were put on hold the poets great-great-great-grandson emailed other members of the family and suggested they all made recordings of themselves reading their favourite Wordsworth poem. Initially, the idea was that it would just be family reading poetry. After all, there are roughly 50 descendants of the poet alive, and they all wanted to be involved, but a few phone calls to a couple of key celebrities such as Stephen Fry meant soon there were rather a lot of celebrities wanting to be involved.

The organisers of the project were delighted to see just how popular the poet”s work was. At first, they wondered if they might get multiple readings of daffodils but that as quickly proved not to be the case.

Thanks to the readings created by family members and celebrities there are already 100 readings online but it is hoped that they can increase that number to at least 250. Whilst some of the clips are in video form, the majority of the celebrity ones are just audio clips, it doesn’t matter however what form they take.

Poetry has seen a significant uptake during the pandemic with Carol Anne Duffy, the former poet laureate, putting together a collection of poetry from other poets and actors like Patrick Stewart reading works by William Shakespeare on social media.

10th Oregon Poet Laureate Named

Anis Mojgani, the two-times National Poetry Slam champion, has been named as the new poet laureate for Oregon. The current poet laureate is Kim Stafford who has been in the position since 2018.

Mojgani hails from New Orleans and has Iranian and African American parents. He has written five books of poetry, the most recent of which was published in 2018.

He will officially take up the role on 4th May.

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