Forward Prize/Google Doodle/Rumi’s Birthplace Build – Poetry News Roundup January 29th

Our final poetry news of the week looks at the judging panel for the Forward Prize, the poet celebrated with a Google Doodle and plans to rebuild Rumi’s birthplace.

Forward Poetry Prize Chair of Judges Announced

James Naughtie, the broadcaster has been announced as the chair of judges for the 30th Forward Prize.

The award is worth a total of £16,000 and is split between the prize for best collection, the Felix Dennis Prize for the best first collection, and the prize for the best single poem. The shortlist of the judge’s picks will be published on 16th September 2021 in the Forward Book of Poetry. This year the judging panel includes three judges, including a former shortlisted poet.

Because this year marks a special year for the prize, they will be celebrating with a new anthology. Titled “Poems of the Decade: An Anthology of the Forward Books of Poetry 2011 – 2020”. It will include 100 poems that have been written by poets who have brought new audiences to the field of poetry and helped to highlight it as an art form.

Jim Wong-Chu Honoured with Google Doodle

A Google Doodle of the Vancouver poet Jim Wong-Chu, illustrated by David Lu, could be seen yesterday. The carton stylised image showed the poet holding a book whilst leaning against a wall in Chinatowns neon-lit streets. The Vancouver Millennium Gate is pictured in the background.

The poet died in 2017 at the age of 68. He was born in Hong Kong but moved to Canada with his aunt and uncle when he was just four years of age. It was a “paper son” set up which got around the Chinese Exclusion Act which saw most Chinese immigration to Canada banned.

Wong-chu worked for Canada Post as a mail carrier, but his passion was community building and art. He also worked as a poet, photographer, activist, radio show host and mentor to a number of Canadian artists and writers including Wayson Choy and Madeline Thien.

In 1996 he helped to found the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop. This was set up to offer a space for Asian-Canadian writers to challenge those more dominant voices in the Canadian literary world.

The director of the Workshop says that his goal was to promote those voices that he felt were not given a chance at publication and were left voiceless.

Birthplace of Rumi to be Rebuilt by Kabul

Authorities in Afghanistan are making plans to rebuild the 13th-century Islamic teaching complex where the poet and mystic Jalaluddin Rumi once lived.

The building, which is located in the Balkh province, was a learning site where the poet was born in 1207. It includes a monastery, a mosque and a madrasa with space for hundreds of disciples. It belonged to Rumi’s father, Bahauddin Wald, a theologian who was referred to as Sultan Al-Ulema.

The town was destroyed by the Mongol army of Genghis Khan in around 1210. Work did start to rebuild Balkh but centuries later the site was still in ruins. The government came under fire in 2001 for failing to carry out the restoration work. It is now hoped that this work will begin again this spring. The project is expected to cost around $7 million.

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