Moscow Book Fair/Dawkins Award/Poet’s Statue – Poetry News Roundup June 9th

Today our poetry news round up takes a look at this years Moscow Book Fair, The Richard Dawkins Award and the possibility of a poet statue in Shrewsbury Square.

Moscow Book Fair Goes Ahead

Despite the restrictions put in place by the Covid 19 pandemic, the Moscow book fair decided to go ahead this year. The organisers did, however, put a few restrictions in place and also some extra cleaning to help ensure the safety of the book fair”s visitors.

There is a still a restriction in place for most public events in Russia at the moment however the organisers were given special permission to go ahead. They were advised to keep attendance at 6000 people per day, anyone who wanted to attend was required to apply for permission. The number of attendees was also required to be divided into groups; five groups each lasting no longer than two hours.

The opening day of the book fair was timed to fall on the birthday of Alexander Pushkin the famous Russian poet, the fair will last for just three days.

Richard Dawkins Award Won by Javed Akhtar

Javed Akhtar, the celebrated lyricist, writer and poet has become the first Indian to be awarded the Richard Dawkins Award. The award is given for advancing humanist values and critical thinking.

Well respected in India, Akhtar is particularly well known for his Indian music and cinema.

When he was informed that he was the winner of the award Akhtar said that he was deeply honoured. ever since reading “The Selfish Gene” he had been a great admirer of Dawkins. He was made aware that he was a winner by Dawkins himself in an email which advised him that he had been unanimously selected by the board of judges.

Javed Akhtar has won a number of other awards during his lengthy career, including five National Film Awards and The Sahitya Akademi Award.

Shrewsbury Square May Get New Statue

In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests that took place all over the UK this weekend, calls are being made for the statue of Clive of India, Robert Clive the former Mayor and MP for the city, to be removed from the square.

Protestors say that there is no longer a place for a statue paying tribute to a man who was so heavily involved in establishing British colonial rule in India. His role, and that of the East India Trading company in the region is believed to have led to the 1770 Bengal famine which saw over 30% of the region”s people starving to death.

The petition, which has already received over 2000 signatures acknowledges just how embedded racism is in the culture of the country.

There are calls to have a statue erected in its place to commemorate a more appropriate local figure like the poet Wilfred Owen who was born in Oswestry, or Mary Webb the novelist and poet.

The current local MP has called for any protests on the matter to be carried out in a peaceful manner.

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