Blue Plaque Application/Pope’s Dante Celebration/Japanese New Year Poetry – Poetry News Roundup March 26th

Our final poetry news round-up of the week looks at an application for blue plaques which has been withdrawn, the Pope’s celebration of Dante and the Japanese New Year Poetry Ceremony.

Blue Plaques Plan Withdrawn

Gresham School in Norfolk, which can cost parents up to £36,000 a year for their children’s education has withdrawn their plans for 25 blue plaques. The plaques which were to have been given pride of place on the Old School House building would have celebrated a selection of their old and prominent alumni. The school faced considerable backlash over the plans as the 25 named individuals only included one woman and the list also named Donald Maclean, a Soviet spy.

Local councillors were very critical of the decision which they felt would be to “honour a traitor”. Maclean was a Cambridge Five spy, a British diplomat who during World War II leaked secrets from the British government to the Soviet Union. He defected in 1951 to Moscow just before he was exposed as a spy.

The school were informed that the visual impact of the plaques would mean planning would not be given for the tributes and have withdrawn their application.

Other notable alumni who the school had been hoping to honour included Olivia Coleman the actress, inventor Sir James Dyson, BenJamin Britten the composer and the poet WH Auden.

Pope Celebrates Dante

To mark the occasion of the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the great Italian poet, Pope Francis has released an Apostolic Letter. In the letter which is titled “Candor Lucis Aeternae” the poet highlights just how timeless and relevant the depth of faith that can be found in “The Divine Comedy” still is.

The letter looks at the thoughts of not just the current pope but also previous Pontiffs on the subject of Dante and considers not only the works for which he is still so well know but also about the poet’s life, what he endured and even the ideas of faith that he portrayed in his works.


The letter goes on further to look at each of the characters that Dante introduced to his audience as part of The Divine Comedy and the role that they played in his spiritual journey. It ends with a congratulation from the Pope to the teachers who he says work with such passion to communicate the messages of religion, culture and moral riches that are contained within Dante’s work. He wants to ensure that this rich heritage of Italy isn’t just confined to the classroom but is spread in the community as well.


New Year Poetry Reading Ceremony

The New Year Poetry Reading ceremony has taken place in Japan following its postponement from January.

The theme of the poetry this year was “Fruit” with both Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako reading poems that they had written for the occasion. There were also readings from other members of the royal family and 10 poems written by members of the public.

This year the public poems were selected from a total of 13657 entries that had been submitted. The Waka poetry readings were done in the traditional style which was developed by the aristocracy of the Japanese court in the sixth century.

Next year’s theme was announced as “Mado” (window).

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