Shrine’s Renovation/Nebraska Culture Endowment – Poetry News Roundup May 17th

Today’s poetry news round-up takes a look at renovations on a Japanese shrine linked to a poet and the poet laureates guest appearance at an event in Nebraska.

Renovation Begins on 1100-Year-Old Shrine

Across Japan, there are many shrines. However, the Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine, which can be found in Dazaifu, is said to be one of the most important. This 1,100-year-old shrine is built on top of the gravesite of the poet,  Heian Era Scholar, as well as  Sugawara no Michizane, who has been enshrined for all eternity as the god of culture, learning and the arts. The shrine is also the head of the 12,000 Tenjin shrines that can be found across Japan.

The shrine itself is a top tourist spot in the area and one of significant importance to Tenjin-sama – who is considered to be the master of waka and Chinese poetry. However, for the next years, those who plan to visit will find that the shrine is looking a little different. The number 25 is closely linked with Tenjin-sama, and a festival has been held every 24 years since Tenjin-Sama’s death. The 1,125th anniversary will fall in 2027, and this means that there will be a big celebration, the shrine hasn’t had any work carried out on it for the last 124 years, and so now it will be undergoing a significant renovation schedule.

Until this is complete, there is a temporary shrine which has been erected in front of the original, in true Japanese style. This, however, is not some hastily put-together building but a beautifully designed and decorated building that has been styled both inside and out to reflect its importance as a temporary shrine. A special ceremony took place on 13th May to move the Deity to its temporary new home.

25 Years of Nebraska Cultural Endowment

Ada Limon, the Latina poet and writer who is the current Poet Laureate in the US, will be attending an important event at the Nebraska Cultural Endowment this Thursday. The event will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the endowment, and Limon will be the featured guest.

Through a bill that was put into the legislature of Nebraska in 1998, the endowment was created using private donations and state funds. The purpose of the endowment is to provide funding which is used for Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Arts Council.

As part of the event, Limon will take part in a discussion with fellow poets and also present a poetry reading.

The role of poet laureate has been an important one in the US since 1937, with the first person to hold the role being referred to as the Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. The title changed to the current one in 1986 when Robert Penn Warren took the post. Limon has recently become the first person to be appointed to a second term as the poet laureate. Nebraska is home to the former poet laureate Ted Kooser who served between 2004 and 2006. It had been hoped that he would have been able to attend the celebration, but he currently has health issues that made this difficult.

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