Thrift Store Treasure/Arts Academy Award/Chester Literary Festival – Poetry News Roundup March 12th

Today in our poetry news round-up we look at the treasure found in a thrift store, the $100,000 Arts Academy Award and the Chester Literature Festival 2020.

Thrift Store Trash Turn Out to be Treasure

A volunteer at a thrift store in Kittyhawk, North Caroline spotted something that they thought looked a little special amongst their boxes of donations recently. Whilst she was working in the sorting room pricing up new donations Wendy Hawkins saw a number of paintings, one of which she thought looked old and rather special.

So convinced that the picture was worth something, she took it to a local fine arts appraiser in her lunch hour. Her hunch was right, the picture turned out to be one of the paintings from Salvador Dali’s collection “The Divine Comedy”. The work is more valuable than some as it also has a wooden stamp on it and a dual hand-written signature.

In the early 1950s, the series was commissioned by the government in Italy in honour of the 700th birthday of Dante Alighieri, the Italian poet who is well known for his Divine Comedy and Inferno.

A staggering 100 illustrations were created by Dali for the occasion using scenes from the poet’s work, however the choice of a Spanish artist for such an Italian celebration was widely criticised, so government funding was pulled for the project. The work was completed and then published by a French company, finally being released in 1963.

The thrift store owner said that artworks that pass through the shop sell for $10 to around $50 at the most. This particular example, however, was sold for $1200.

$100,000 Arts Academy Award Won by Leslie Marmon Silko

The writer Leslie Marmon Silko, winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters lifetime achievement award has seen her writing, which is influenced by her Laguna Pueblo heritage reaching far and wide.

Yesterday, the writer, who is 72, was announced as the winner of the Christopher Lightfoot Walker Award which is given for a significant contribution to the literature of America. Silko is a key member of the Native American Renaissance, a group that began life in the early 1960’s. She is well known for both her stories and her poems.

The prize is a biannual one and was first awarded in 2018 when the winner was Thomas Pynchon.


In total, the academy awarded 19 prizes to writers, 13 of whom were women this year. These prizes included the $20,000 Arthur Rense Poetry Prize and the E.M. Forster Award which this year went to Stephen Sexton a poet from Belfast.

The American Academy of Arts and Letters is an honour society which was founded in 1898.

Storyhouse Announces First Names on the 2020 Lineup for Chester Literature Festival

The 2020 Chester Literature Festival will take place from 7-28th November at the Storyhouse in Chester.

The theatre has announced that the poet John Cooper Clarke is amongst their confirmed attendees for this year. He will be reading from the first poetry collection he has published in decades “The Luckiest Guy Alive”.

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