Statue Causes Uproar/Irish Poet Documentary – Poetry News Roundup February 4th

Today in our poetry news round-up we look at the statue that has caused an uproar and the documentary about the pioneer Irish poet.

New Statue Honouring Poet Causes Uproar

Over the course of the last couple of days, social media in Pakistan has been reacting to the new statue of the poet and philosopher, Sir Muhammad Iqbal, and the reactions have been less than favourable.

The sculpture, which was recently unveiled in Lahore Park, looks absolutely nothing like Iqbal and people are not happy at what they see as an insult to the man who is considered to be one of the greatest poets of the modern era for his verses, which were written in Persian and Urdu.

Twitter has been buzzing with comments as people have posted photographs of the statue and asked why it was even allowed to be put in the park. Comments have ranged from asking if it was in fact created by a two-year-old to apologising to the poet himself. Many have called for its removal calling it an insult to the poet.

The statue was actually unveiled on 14th August 2020 to mark the 73rd Independence Day in Pakistan. It was not created by a professional sculptor but by the park gardeners who wanted to create a tribute to Iqbal. This is not the first time that there have been calls to remove a statue of a famous person in recent years due to its lack of resemblance to the person it was honouring. In 2015 a statue to Mahatma Gandhi in India came under criticism.

Following the outcry, the statue was removed by the Lahore Pars and Horticulture Authority (PHA) in order for some improvements to be made. Two Officials in the PHA were also suspended on the grounds of “inefficiency and negligence of duty”.

A Pioneer of Poetry: Medbh McGuckian

A documentary about the poet Medbh McGuckian ran on the television last night in Ireland. McGuckian is one of the foremost poets of Ireland and often referred to as the matriarch of poetry – a term she is not fond of. She is the current writer in residence at Queen’s University and the 1979 winner of the National Poetry Prize.

In a recent interview, McGuckian said that she had been really looking forward to helping with the filming of the documentary despite the current restrictions that are in place. Seeing her poems on the screen would be something special.

As a poet, she came into her own during the 1970s when there was a big breakthrough of women poets, particularly in America and England. She was grouped with the male poets in Ireland much of the time until later she was able to sign with a female publishing house.

During the documentary, McGuckian who is from north Belfast talks about Seamus Heaney, her mentor, and the fact that he was particularly passionate and aware of the women he wrote about in his poetry. The feminine side of many male writers she feels is very much a part of their writing.

She also discusses her method of writing new poems; she rarely sits down to a blank page of paper; instead preferring to collect words and phrases over time and then use these to help her create a verse.

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