Posthumous Laureate/America’s Got Poets/Wales Book Of The Year – Poetry News Roundup July 2nd

Today in our news round-up, we have the posthumous Poet Laureate, the spoken word artist wowing Americas Got Talent and the shortlist for the Wales Book of the Year award.

Honorary Poet Laureate Posthumously Named

The late country and folk legend John Prine has been posthumously named as the honorary Poet Laureate of his home state Illinois.

Prine died at the age of 73 in April, from complications caused by coronavirus. His final single was released on June 27 and opened at number 1 on the Rock Digital Song Sales tally. The accolade, which is unprecedented, was awarded shortly after.

Prine’s widow said that her family were honoured by the recognition that the state had made to her husband and he had had a great respect for all writers, in particular poets, and the weight that their work carried.

The career and life of Prine were recently celebrated with a two-hour television special. Prine’s final album was recorded in his own living room during lockdown

Can a Poet Win Americas Got Talent?

A spoken word poet from Stockton has made history on America’s Got Talent. Brandon Leake is the first spoken word artist to have appeared on the show since it began 14 years ago. Not only is he the first but he also managed to receive the golden buzzer, something that allows the contestant to advance directly to the live part of the competition without the need to face elimination.

Leake appeared on the first audience-free episode that kicked of the new season and delivered a very emotional poem that he had dedicated to his sister who died as a baby.

Despite their misgivings (Simon Cowell did admit that he didn’t really understand poetry), the judges were blown away by the performance. One of the judges, Sofia Vergara said that she could feel Leake’s pain. She had a brother who had died in the same year as his sister, so she understood.

Simon Cowell told Leake that he felt there was something very special about him. The final judge Howie Mandel was moved so much by the performance that he was the one to reach for the Golder Buzzer.

Perhaps we might see a poet in the final line up, or even winning this year?

Wales Book of the Year Shortlist

Two of Bangor University’s creative writing lecturers have been named on this year’s Wales Book of the Year shortlist which was announced this morning.

Zoe Skoulding has been nominated for her most recent poetry collection “Footnotes on Water” and the other nomination is novelist Alys Conran for “Dignity”.

Both of the books have strong connections to the local area Alys Conran grew up in Bangor whilst Footnotes on Water follows the Adda river in Bangor and the Bièvre in Paris, the book was also a choice last year for the Poetry Book Society.

Skoulding has several published collections of poetry to her name and has previously been shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award as well as being longlisted for the Wales Book of the Year as well.

Conran is a previous winner of the Wales Book of the Year Award and was also shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize with her first novel.

Comments1

  • jarcher54

    I happened to catch Brandon Leake's recitation on AGT. It was lovely because it was so sincere, so brave. It could have fallen flat, but did not. I think it was especially effective because there was no audience. A more raucous poem, delivered in a slam style, would probably work better with an AGT audience, who are often looking to be wowed. I think Simon was playing dumb about not understanding poetry, but in any case he understands it better now.



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