Alabama Poet Laureate/Cikada Prize/Honorary Degree for Poet – Poetry News Roundup December 6th

We begin the week with a look at the new poet laureate for Alabama, the winner of the Cikada Prize and also the poet who has received an honorary degree.

First Black Poet Laureate of Alabama Honoured by Governor

The Governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey has honoured Ashley M. Jones, the state’s first Black poet laureate in a ceremony that took place at the white-domed Capitol, the same building where 160 years ago a vote was taken by the Southern delegates to form the Confederacy. Jones is a teacher of creative writing who is inspired to write by the difficulties and inequality of being a Black American.

Jones will begin her four year term as the poet laureate for Alabama in January. The role will entail advocating for writing in general, with a particular emphasis on poetry. There will be personal appearances in libraries, schools, and other institutions. She has written a number of poetry books, the most recent of which was a collection of poems that was published earlier this year.

The appointment of Jones to this position is being hailed as somewhat revolutionary by a number of literary organisations in the state. They believe that she has a lot to offer to the post and hope it will inspire many young Black poets to showcase their own work.

Swedish Literary Prize Awarded to Kim Hye-soon

The Korean poet Kim Hye-soon has been named as the winner of the prestigious Swedish literary award, the Cikada Prize. This is an annual award that is given in recognition of East Asian poetry writers.

The award was established in 2004 and is given to commemorate the 100th birth anniversary of the Swedish writer Harry Martinson. Martinson, who died in 1978, was perhaps most well known for the epic poem “Aniara” which was published in 1956. He was also the 1974 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Cikada (or cicada in English) was the name of the poetry collection Martinson published in 1953.

The prize looks at poetry by East Asian writers from China, Japan, and Korea. Their work should “defend the inviolability of life,” – bringing figures who have for too long been marginalised into the spotlight.

Kim is the fourth poet from Korea to have been awarded the prize since its inception. The judges felt that her poetry was faithful to the identity and emotions that constitute the body of a woman.

Kim, who is 66, will collect a cash prize of 30,000 Swedish krona and a piece of art that has been designed by Gunilla Sundstrom, a ceramics artist. The award ceremony will take place at the Swedish Embassy in Seoul on 21st December.

Honorary Degree for George the Poet

George Mpanga, who is more commonly known as George the poet, has been awarded an honorary literature degree from the University of London for his considerable contributions, not only to the university but also to public life.

The degree was awarded as part of a ceremony that took place to mark the Foundation Day of the university and the award was presented by Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal.

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