Lockdown Poem Recorded/Springsteen and Pinsky – Poetry News Roundup May 18th

We begin the week with a look at the poem Lockdown which has been recorded to music. We also have an article about Bruce Springsteen and Robert Pinsky.

Poet Laureate Records Lockdown Poem

The UK poet laureate, Simon Armitage has joined forces with the actor Florence Pugh to record a lockdown poem. The recording features Armitage’s latest poem “Lockdown”, which has been set to music. The proceeds from the collaboration will be given to Refuge, the domestic abuse charity.

The recording has both Armitage and Pugh reading lines of the poem whilst ominous music begins. The music becomes more euphoric as the poem continues. This is not the first time that Armitage has put some of his poetry to music. This is something he has been doing for the last couple of years with the help of a group known as LYR. Armitage was delighted to work with Pugh, who was nominated for the BAFTAS and the OSCARS for the role she played in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. She brought “intelligence and crackle” to the reading.

The recording was done remotely because of the lockdown; something that was not a problem for the poet as this is how he often works with LYR.

Armitage is delighted to be supporting Refuge. As a former probation officer, he is very aware of the rises that are likely to be seen in cases of domestic abuse and violence against both women and children during the pandemic.

Lockdown was first published in the Guardian newspaper and charts the bubonic plague outbreak in the village of Eyam during the 17th century. The poem has a sense of optimism and grit, Armitage did not want it to just be an elegy or a bit of trivia. He produced the poem under some pressure as he normally prefers to work at his own pace but none the less he is very proud of it.

Speaking about poetry and the pandemic, Armitage believes that many people are turning to poetry as a way of coping with what is going on around them, not just as something to read but also trying their hand at writing poetry as well.

The recording of Lockdown is due to be released digitally on 21st May. LYR will also be releasing their debut album on 26th June.

The Poet and the Rocker

10 years ago, Bruce Springsteen and Robert Pinsky, the former US poet laureate, were at the Dreyfuss Theatre in Madison for a joint performance.

In what was billed as a once in a lifetime event, the pair discussed their work and lives before performing together and on their own. The event was a small one, with a capacity for only 350 people in the theatre – most of them were students from FDU – but the event was filmed. There has never been any release of that film until last week.

The professor who had organised the event spoke to Springsteen’s management and, on their agreement, released three videos on YouTube. He is planning to post more video clips of the event when they are ready.

The two men discuss their similarities in upbringing, and their influences. Springsteen was influenced by Frank Sinatra and Pinsky by William Carlos Williams, and what is clear to anyone watching the clips is that whilst they had not met before they were both very aware of the work of the other.

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