Shelley Anniversary/African American Poetry Donation/Maya Angelou’s Son Passes Away – Poetry News Roundup February 21st

Today in our poetry news, we look at the marking of the 200th anniversary of the death of Percy Bysshe Shelley, the collection of African American poetry donated to LSU and the death of Maya Angelou’s son.

Rome and the Shelleys

The 200th anniversary of the date of that Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned is being marked by the Keats-Shelley House, which is located in Rome. They have planned a number of events for the occasion, including a screening of Shelly in Rome, a short film which will be shown during an outdoor session.

Percy, together with his wife Mary Shelley and her half sister Claire Clairmont spent just three months in Rome. They were very happy there until on the 7th of June 1819 William, the Percys’ three year old son died suddenly. Following the burial, they all left Rome never to return. Percy died on 8th July 1822 when he drowned off the Lerici coast in Tuscany. His ashes were returned to Rome and interred in the same cemetery as his son.

The events to mark the anniversary will be taking place in Lerici, Rome, Naples and also in the UK.

Louisiana State University Becomes Home of Most Important Collection of African American Poetry

The most important collection of African American poetry to have ever been amassed, the Wyatt Houston Day Collection, has become the property of the LSU. The Libraries Special Collections at the library will now be the home of over 800 items that were previously owned by Wyatt Houston Day, a book dealer and collector. The collection includes works of poetry from the 18th century right up to the 21st century, and also the Harlem Renaissance.

Some of the main works in the collection include an 1895 rare first edition of “Majors and Minors” by Paul Laurence Dunbar that was once owned by the family of the abolitionist Frederick Douglas, a collection of books by Gwendolyn Brooks, Langston Hughes’ original typed manuscript for the 12 part poem “Ask Your Mama.” This is inscribed by the poet to his fellow poet Amiri Baraka.

There are also a number of smaller chapbooks by lesser known poets, which do not have a significant monetary value to the collection but are very valuable for their literary contribution. The entire collection was appraised in September 2021 and given a value of $612,940. However, Day wanted to ensure that the works were placed within an educational institution so that they could be appreciated and used in perpetuity for the cultural insights that they offer.

Only Child of Maya Angelou Dies

Guy Johnson, the only child of Dr Maya Angelou, renowned poet has died at the age of 77. Johnson was born when Angelou was just 16 years of age, and the pair had an incredible bond.

Johnson, who was also a published poet, was involved in a car accident at the age of 17 which broke his neck and left him with significant medical issues throughout the rest of his life.

He is survived by his wife and two children.

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