Rosen’s New Book/Poetry On The Bridge – Poetry News Roundup March 15th

Today”s poetry news round-up takes a look at Michael Rosen’s new book and the poetry in London to celebrate Keats 200th death anniversary.

What it Feels Like to Almost Die

Last year Michael Rosen, the poet and former children’s laureate contracted Covid-19. He spent 48 days in intensive care, many more weeks recovering on a ward and was finally allowed home for what will be a long-term recuperation.

Now in his own unique outlook on life he has written a book containing prose poems in which he has attempted to make sense of what he went through.

During his time in the hospital, his 2008 poem “These Are the Hands” which was written for the 60th anniversary of the NHS became the unofficial anthem for those in the health service dealing with the first wave. His book “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” also saw an increase in popularity as people put teddy bears in windows for children to spot on their walks each day.

Thankfully, Rosen, who is 74 is starting to feel a little better now, however, the effects of his brush with COVID are long term. He now needs a hearing aid in one ear and often feels dizzy and breathless. He has even been taking part in Zoom school visits, although he has encountered a few technical hitches along the way. He has also continued to add his voice to the campaigns to support teachers during what has been the most unusual year when these often-unsung teachers have borne the brunt of much frustration.

The new collection “Many Different Kinds of Love” is prose poetry and is accompanied by illustrations from Chris Riddell. The book is Rosen’s attempt at looking at the weeks last year that he missed. Many of his memories of that time are jumbled up confusion, he suddenly remembers random things that he has no previous recollection of. He has taken to writing these down and then trying to piece them together.

Rosen hasn’t let coronavirus slow him down, much, he currently has 3 books in the pipeline, is also working on an oratorio to mark the 100th anniversary of the Ealing Symphony Orchestra and has recorded an entire series of Word of Mouth, his radio programme. Rosen is due to appear in “2020: The Story of Us” which will air on 16th March on ITV.

Poetry on the Bridge

To mark the 200th anniversary of the death of the poet John Keats, a poetry display has been installed at London Bridge railway station. There are also poems on carriages throughout the underground stations.

The theme of nature is particularly prevalent in the works of Keats and this has been used for many of the poems that are on display as it is particularly relevant to people this year, allowing people a way to escape from the day-to-day routines that lockdown has offered them.

Transport for London is hoping that the nature-inspired poems that they have used will help to brighten up the journey of those people who are still using public transport during these trying times.


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