Poetry At The Oscars/One Poet – Two People? – Poetry News Roundup February 12th

Today on My Poetic Side we take a look at the poetry dress worn to The Oscars and the rise of the poet who was actually two people.

Poetry at The Oscars

Waad Al-Kateab, a filmmaker and journalist from Syria attended The Oscars earlier this week wearing a stunning gown with a political message.

The Syrian was nominated for her documentary “For Sama” which looked at the female experiences of war, both the violent siege of Syria and also the birth of Sama, her daughter over the course of a five year period and the uprising that took place in Aleppo. For Sama was the winner of the best documentary category at the BAFTA’s

Her stunning pink, floor-length gown, was embroidered with poetry in Arabic which said

She was not the only celebrity at the ceremony to use her dress in this way, nor is this the first time that an awards ceremony dress has been embroidered with poetry.

The Poet Who was Two People

The recent online publication of 26 years’ worth of diaries written by Katharine Bradley and Edith Cooper has seen something of a renewed interest in the poet Michael Field.

The two women lived in Britain during the reign of Queen Victoria. Both were poets. They were aunt and niece, and perhaps more importantly to their history, they were in a same-sex lifelong partnership. At a time when Lesbianism was dismissed, Edith and Katharine declared that their relationship was stronger than that of Robert Browning and his wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the literary “power couple” of the age.

In order to make their words more acceptable, they created a male persona Michael Field. This allowed them to pen things that would not have been acceptable coming from a woman. Together under their pen name, they published hundreds of poems, many of which were rather erotic. So well received was their work that at one point Field was proposed as the next poet laureate however once the discovery was made they were met with a completely different reception- exactly as they knew they would have been.

They were, however, not alone as members of the aesthetic movement, which was around during the late 19th century they had a number of friends including Oscar Wilde and fellow same-sex couple Charles Ricketts and Charles Shannon, artists and designers. The two Charles’ helped them create a number of beautiful volumes of poetry with intricately designed covers. Fields poems never sold in huge numbers, but he did have a good following.

Long Ago, one of their earlier volumes was inspired by Sappho the Ancient Greek poet. Sapphos poems, of which only fragments survive, contain love lyrics addressed to both men and women, fragments which the couple used as a catalyst in their own poetry.

For the majority of the 20th century, Michael Field was ignored as a poet but in recent years his poetry has enjoyed something of a revival.



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