Google Doodle’s Nod To African Poet/War Poet Film At Shropshire Home – Poetry News Roundup May 16th

We begin the week with a look at the Google Doodle, which was dedicated to a South African poet and the Stately home featuring in a film about the life of Siegfried Sassoon.

Google Doodle Dedicated to South African Poet

The Google Doodle on 12th May was dedicated to Mazisi Kunene the South African anti-apartheid campaigner and poet. Kunene’s work was important for the exploration that is made into the culture of South Africa, the history, religion and the context of slavery, apartheid and colonialism.

The date is significant as it would have been his 92nd Birthday. The poet was born in Durban in 1930 in the region now called KwaZulu-Natal. Growing up, he loved writing poetry and short stories, which he did in Zulu. When he was just 11 years old, he published his first pieces in local magazines and newspapers, and as he grew older, he became an advocate for the traditions of the Indigenous poetic traditions of the Zulu culture and preserving them. His writing was a record of the Zulu, their traditions and the people.

At the beginning of apartheid, he used his written work to resist the racist segregation system put in place by the government. In the late 50s the government cracked down on those who were part of the resistance movement, and he was exiled. He fled to the UK where he wrote some of his most important pieces. He later moved to the USA where he was instrumental in helping to set up the anti-apartheid movement. Throughout this period, all of his work was banned in South Africa; however, it was during this period that he published “The Ancestors and the Sacred Mountain,” “Emperor Shaka the Great,” and “Anthem of the Decades.”

He became the University of California African literature professor in 1975 and taught there for almost two decades whilst also holding a position as a UNESCO cultural advisor.

Post-apartheid, he was able to return to South Africa, and in 1993 he was honoured by UNESCO who made him Africa’s poet laureate.

He died on 11th August 2006, and his memory lives on through the Mazisi Kunene Foundation Trust, a foundation which nurtures the next generation of literary talent in Africa.

Shropshire Stately Home Stars in Film About War Poet

Weston Park, a stately home on the Shropshire border, is to feature in a film about the life of the poet Siegfried Sassoon.

The film Benediction will star Peter Capaldi and Jack Lowden as Sassoon through his life. It will look at the poet”s life, fighting in the First World War, being decorated and then when he returned to the UK, becoming a very vocal critic against the government and their continuation of the war.

A number of the inside scenes from the movie will be shot in the house as they capture the atmosphere the director was hoping to create. The shooting was originally only supposed to last a couple of days; however, this was extended and then covid hit, forcing filming to stop in March 2020. Filming resumed in October 2020.

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