We begin the week here on My Poetic Side with a look at the poet who has been jailed, the anniversary of the first enslaved Africans in the US marked by a poet and Simon Armitage’s first couple of months as poet laureate.
Poet handed jail sentence
Rita Wong, an associate professor and award-winning poet has been jailed for what is the longest term handed to a protestor against the Trans Mountain project for the pipeline expansion at a site in Burnaby. The sentence is 28 days in total and was linked to Wong’s protests in August last year. All previous sentences have either been fines or jail time of between 7 to 14 days.
Wong has written three books and is the winner of the Asian Canadian Writer’s Workshop for emerging writers. She has also won the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.
In a statement that she posted on her Twitter account, Wong stated that at the time, when wildfires were blazing – which she claims were caused by climate changes -she prayed, sang and sat in protest in from of the project for a total of 30 minutes. She did so because the government had decided that they were not responsible for the climate issues and she felt it was important to act.
The poet is currently serving her jail sentence. In just 4 days a total of $17,000 has been raised by an online GoFundMe campaign which is looking to assist her with her legal costs – the fund has now closed to donations.
Politicians and poet to mark anniversary of arrival of first enslaved Africans
The poet Nikki Giovanni joined Gov. Ralph Northam to mark the anniversary of the arrival in Virginia of the first enslaved Africans. Over the weekend, they spoke at the 2019 African Landing Commemorative Ceremony which took place in Chesapeake Bay. It was here that the slave ships traded in both women and men from what is now Angola for supplies from the British colonists.
The landing, which took place in August 1619, is considered a turning moment in the system of race-based slave trading.
To mark the occasion Giovanni read an original poem.
Simon Armitage – His first few months as Poet Laureate
In his first few months as the poet laureate, Simon Armitage has certainly hit the headlines a few times.
His first poem as poet laureate was written to commemorate the moon landing of 1969. Conquistadors made comparisons between the 16th-century explorers who conquered the Americas and the team who manned Apollo 11.
He has also penned a 51-word poem that highlights the precision that is required in the fight to eradicate cancer. The poem was commissioned by ICR (Institute for Cancer Research) as part of the work on their new research building, which will be opened next year. The poem has been engraved on a pill that measures 10mm wide and 20mm long, which will be displayed in the building when it is completed.
In the last week, he has hit the headlines when he stated that he would not be writing a poem to commemorate Brexit on 31st October. This was a statement that was met with much displeasure by anti-EU MP’s who took it upon themselves to write poems for the occasion to show him how it is done.