Today in our poetry news round-up we bring you the poet celebrated with a Google Doodle and the unusual audition for a poet laureate in Stamford.
Saadat Hasan Manto Celebrated with Google Doodle
The Pakistani playwright, poet and writer Saadat Hasan Manti has been celebrated in a Google Doodle to mark the date of his 108th Birthday. The doodle was designed by the artist Shehzil Malik, an artist who was so struck by the burkini ban in France in 2016 that she launched her own feminist fashion collection in 2017. She was delighted to be asked to create the doodle as she counts Manto as one of her heroes.
Manto is well known for his stories which look at Indian partition, he was considered something of a visionary writer and the subjects he chose for his writing were those on the fringes of the society that he lived in. He was born in 1912 in Ludhiana, a predominately Sikh city.
The central characters in his stories were powerful women although perhaps not in the more traditional sense. His male characters, on the other hand, were usually much more sensitive and vulnerable, with harsh backdrops that forced them to stick to more toxic masculinity.
He was also considered a key figure in the world of pop culture because of his rather controversial content as a playwright.
During his career, he wrote a huge number of poems, published 22 short story collections, wrote a novel and three essay collections. He also penned over 15 scripts for films and 100 plays for the radio.
The Google Doodle depicts him simply sitting at a desk surrounded by pages of writing with inky swirls and splodges creating a backdrop behind him.
New Poet Laureate for Stamford
With the lockdown in place for the pandemic, some things are having to be done a little bit more creatively for normal and that is certainly the case in Stamford. Their new poet laureate Rob Ellks was chosen by Zoom!
A total of seven very talented candidates were auditioned for the position via zoom in a less than traditional process to select the new poet laureate for the area. It had originally been planned to use the Verse 2020 festival to help choose a new candidate, but when this was cancelled the decision was moved to the online platform Zoom, instead.
Each candidate performed a poetry reading live for the panel of judges and an audience of people watching from the comfort of their own homes. The judging panel included the two previous poet laureates for Stamford as well.
The battle was closely fought but in the end, the judges made a unanimous decision that Ellks was the winner.
It might be a while before Ellks is able to take up the role fully but he certainly has plenty of time to plan how he hopes to help bring poetry to the area and promote it during his tenure.