Walt Whitman Celebration/Carnegie and Greenaway Medal Winners/Pashto Poet Passes – Poetry News Roundup June 19th

Today in our poetry news roundup we take a look at one of the events celebrating Walt Whitman. We have the winners of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals and the Pashto poet who has passed away.

Walt Whitman’s Beard

Brooklynites are currently celebrating the 200th anniversary of the birth of the poet Walt Whitman, with a variety of events taking place all over the city. 8th June saw a rather unique competition take place – the Walt Whitman Beard and Moustache Competition.

Whitman himself sported a rather substantial beard and was a great advocate of facial hair. He once said,


Following the advice of the poet himself, unshaven competitors congregated for the competition to compete in a total of eight facial hair-related categories, including best costume beard and even best kids’ beard.

The winner of the best beard in show was given the Good Gray Poet award. Nayland Blake had entered for best natural beard but was beaten by another bearded contender. When asked about his rather Whitman-eque facial hair he said that he had had a beard most of his adult life and rarely trimmed it.

Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals

Elizabeth Acevedo, the US poet, has been announced as the winner of this years CILIP Carnegie Medal. The prize has been awarded for “The Poet X” her verse novel. The CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal was won by Jackie Morris of “The Lost Words”.

The Poet X tells the story of a young Dominican girl who is not supposed to have any contact with boys until she gets married. Her journey progresses as she becomes attracted to a boy in her science class and starts writing poetry, joining the school’s slam poetry club. The judges felt this was a powerful piece of writing on ever level and that Acevedo had celebrated both life and her Dominican heritage.

The winners for both prizes were chosen by a group of 14 youth librarian. There were 254 nominations for the prizes in total. Each library will receive a donation of books for taking part.

Both Morris and Acevedo were also chosen by a public vote conducted in 4500 reading groups across the country to be the winners of the inaugural Shadowers’ Choice Award.   

Acevedo, who is the first woman of colour to ever win the Carnegie medal, praised the student who had inspired her to write the book.

Ismail Baba The Pasto Sufi Poet Laid to Rest

Syed Mohammad Ismail Baba, the noted Pashto poet and spiritual guide, was put to rest in his ancestral graveyard earlier this week. A statement was released by the Islamia College University. He had been ill for some time.

He was considered to be the spiritual successor of Syed Abdul Wahab aka Akhund Panju the famous Sufi saint and had a great many followers. He was also very well known as a Pashto poet who published three volumes of Pashto poetry and a complete poetic works which spanned 2 volumes.

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