40th Litfest/Nobel Prize Committee – Poetry News Roundup January 11th

Our final poetry news round up takes a look at a special event taking place as part of the 40th Litfest. We also take an insightful look into the world of the Nobel prize committee, with some recently unsealed archives.

Poetry at Lancaster University

In what is expected to be a very special event for the 40th Litfest, and as part of a partnership with Lancaster Arts at the University of Lancaster, the poet Roger McGough will be appearing on stage with Little Machine.

The show will take place on the 30th March, and promises to be a fantastic selection of poems; classic, vintage and even a few surprises, set to music. McGough is the author of over 70 books of poetry, editor of many anthologies and well known as one of the UK’s best loved poets. His most recent collection “joinedupwriting” is a very varied collection that looks at the traumas of war, modern politics all over the world and the quirkiness of family life.

Little Machine is a three-member band, made up of writers, composers and musicians. They are well known on the poetry circuit, having appeared with Liz Lochhead, Gillian Clarke, John Cooper-Clarke and the current poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. This promises to be poetry but with a real twist. There will be a book signing after the event.

Irish Author Rejected for Nobel Prize in 1968

The Nobel prize is surrounded by mystery. There is even a 50-year ban on publishing information regarding the deliberations for the Nobel prize committee. Recently released archives dating from 1968 show that whilst the author Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel prize in literature in 1969, the chairman of the committee was not convinced that giving the prize in 1968 to an Irish author was in keeping with the spirit of the award.

He was in no doubt about the quality of Beckett’s work, however he also rejected him as a possibility in 1964 for Waiting for Godot, when he is quoted as saying he
Beckett was a popular choice with the other committee members that year in a field that included the poet WH Auden and Andre Malraux the author as top contenders. Both Ezra Pound and EM Foster were rejected on account of their age, and Vladimir Nabokov was also rejected on the grounds that the jury felt his novel Lolita was immoral.

The Nobel prize for Literature in 1968 was eventually awarded to Yasunari Kawabata the Japanese novelist.

The archives make for interesting reading, offering an insight into feelings both political and moral views of the times. They also offer an intriguing insight into the heated discussions that can occur between members of the jury; especially when each has their preferred choice of winner.

Of course, if you really want to know what happened behind the scenes of one of the more confusing choices of recent years; Bob Dylan’s 2016 Nobel laureate for literature award, then the 50-year embargo will not be up until 2066!

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