Laureate’s Album/Poetry Now Award – Poetry News Roundup February 11th

Today in our poetry news round-up we take a look at the Poet Laureate’s bid to get into the music charts. We also have a short article about the shortlist for this year’s Poetry Now Award.

Poet Laureate to Release Album of “Post-Rock” Music

In something of a departure from his normal poetry-based background the Poet laureate Simon Armitage is to release an album in the spring. Together with the other members of the group LYR, which is short for Land Yacht Regatta they will be releasing their debut album which was inspired by “greasy sex” and Joy Division.

The album has been signed by Mercury’s KX modern classical label and the band are keeping their fingers crossed that they will top the charts. The album is titled “Call In The Crash Team”.

Armitage will not, however, be the first poet laureate in the UK to look for a place in the charts. In the 1970s, John Betjeman released a total of four albums which were created by setting his poetry readings to music.

This is not Armitage’s first foray into the world of music either, he has previously been the frontman of The Scaremongers, an indie-rock band who modelled themselves a little on the works of The Smiths.

LYR features soundscapes composed by musician Richard Walters in collaboration with Patrick Pearson a multi-instrumentalist and of course the poetry of Armitage.

The album includes tracks like Urban Myth ♯91 which features a discordant piano and accelerated percussion.  Many of the lyrics are influenced by the subjects of recession, austerity and post-industrialisation. There are some elements of rock passages and even the odd jazz flourish.

One of the tracks, 33 ⅓, is something of a homage to the frontman of Joy Division, Ian Curtis, who committed suicide in 1980.

The trio worked separately on the album with Pearson and Walters posting their musical ideas on a Dictaphone which they then sent to Armitage in West Yorkshire. They are an ambitious band. There will be no back room of the pub performances for them. Armitage wants to make their music into an event.

Whilst Armitage has already chosen not to mark several historical events in the UK with poetry under his title as poet laureate, he wrote some verses earlier this year to celebrate the centenary of the Royal Astronomical Society. He also wrote about the bicentenary of the six 1819 odes written by John Keats.

Poetry Now Award Shortlist Name

Five poets have been named on the Poetry Now Award Shortlist for 2020. They are all in line for the €2000 prize.

The winner will be named during the Mountains-to-Sea Literary festival which will take place on 28th March at the DLR Lexicon which is located in Dún Laoghaire.

Previous winners of the prize include Theo Dorgan, Paddy Bushe and Seamus Heaney.

The judging panel this year is made up of the editor of Poetry Ireland Review, Jackie Kay the Scottish Makar and Nial MacMonagle an author of a poetry textbook aimed at students.



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