Museum Dedication/Writer Of The Year – Poetry News Roundup December 14th

We begin the week on My Poetic Side with a look at the Kazakh Museum dedicated to a poet. We also look at the winner of this year’s Young Writer Award.

Museum Dedicated to Abai Kunanbayev Fascinates Visitors

This year marks the 175th anniversary of the birth of Abai Kunanbayev, the philosopher, educator, poet and founding father of Kazakh literature. There have been many events planned to celebrate the occasion and these have been taking place all over Kazakhstan.

A monument in Semei, the Uly Agyn Abai Uldarymen – Great Poet Abai with Sons – was just one of the major events to take place.

The Abai Museum, which opened to the public on the 95th anniversary of the poet’s birth 80 years ago is a very popular attraction, often referred to a spiritual Mecca. Even from the very beginning, the museum has proved to be a popular attraction with the Kazakh people. The museum has a rich history which they are, quite rightly, proud of. What many people do not however know is that in 1883 a small history museum opened in Semei, Abai made a substantial donation to the museum of over 500 exhibits. Unfortunately, not all of these exhibits are still in existence. However, there are 17 items from the original donation that have been preserved and form one of the main collections in the museum today.

What started out as a small museum is now a whole complex of museums which is dedicated to not just Abai but also a number of other talented Kazakhs, including the writer Mukhtar Auezov and the scientist Kaysh Satpayev.

This year, thanks to a healthy government budget, the museum has been able to carry out extensive restoration work and also modernise many of their buildings and exhibits. They have also opened a café as a new addition to the museum.

This year around 80 percent of the events that the museum has held have been online. They have held conferences, both on an international and national level. With the help of Turkish TV, they also shot a documentary that is due to be broadcast in at least 50 countries all over the world.

Writer of the Year Named

The poet, Jay Bernard, has been named as the 2020 Yong Writer of the Year. The award has been given for Surge, their debut collection.

The collection explores the events of the New Cross Fire which took place in 1981 and killed thirteen young Black individuals. The poet’s work is often inspired by social history and archives.

In the book, Bernard makes a link between these events and those that took place at Grenfell, the “towers of blood” whilst also considering the wider field of Black British history. The archives at the George Padmore Institute have been invaluable to Bernard in putting the collection together.

The collection of poetry has already received high acclaim, it was the winner of the Ted Hughes Award and has also found itself on the shortlist for a number of other rather prestigious awards.

The Young Writer of the Year Award is given to a writer of non-fiction, fiction, or poetry. They should be aged between 18 and 35 and either British or Irish.

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