Bocas Henry Swanzy Award/Poet’s Statue To Be Removed? – Poetry News Roundup March 9th

Today’s poetry news roundup takes a look at the winners of the 2021 Boca Henry Swanzy Award, and the poet’s statue on the council review list.

2021 Bocas Henry Swanzy Award Winners Announced

Edward Baugh and Mervyn Morris, both Jamaicans and professors’ emeriti at the University of West Indies have been announced as this year’s winners of the Bocas Henry Swanzy Award.

Both men are widely considered to be pioneers in the field of West Indian literature studies, with careers spanning over 50 years. The Bocas Henry Swanzy Award is given for Distinguished Service in the field of Caribbean Letters. The award is named after Henry Swanzy, the late BBC radio producer, who whilst Irish by birth was an essential figure in the world of West Indian Literature through his work on Caribbean Voices radio.

Baugh is a well-known name in the field of Caribbean poetry, and has written a number of books about the life and work of the St Lucian Nobel laureate Derek Walcott. He also edited the 2007 Selected Poems book by the poet. Through his work, Baugh has aided in promoting the distinct approach that the Caribbean has to literature taking into account the regions unique historical events.

Morris is a champion of the tradition of oral poetry, in particular, the study of Jamaican Patwa, and the key role of the dub poet. He has also served as a mentor to several generations of young Jamaican poets helping to anthologise and edit their work. In 2014 he became the Poet Laureate of Jamaica – the first one since their independence – and helped to raise the profile of poetry across the island.

Poet’s Statue Placed on Secret Racism Review List by Council

In a review prompted by the Black Lives Matter campaign, a statue of the poet Philip Larkin has been placed on the Hull City Council racism review list. Larkin, who died in 1985, was honoured by the city with a statue in 2010.

The council have been creating a list of any statues in the region that they feel may be of major concern after concerns were raised that they could not be seen to do nothing. The statue of Larkin has been designated as “problematic” as a result of some private correspondence from Larkin that was published in “Selected Letters” several years after his death. One of the letters was written following his attendance at a cricket match when he complained about the “black scum” who had been allowed to attend.

Other statues in Hull that are believed to be on the list are those of King William III, Mahatma Gandhi, and fellow poet Andrew Marvell.

Larkin’s first book was published in 1945 and he went on to become one of the preeminent poets of his generation following the publication of “The Less Deceived”, his second volume, in 1955. He became one of the leading voices of “The Movement” a group of English writers who chose to reject the fashion for a more neo-Romantic style of writing that followed the works of poets such as WB Yeats and Dylan Thomas.



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