Ondaatje Prize/VE Day Celebrations – Poetry News Roundup May 6th

Today’s poetry news round-up takes a look at the winner of this years RSL Ondaatje prize and the Victory day celebrations that will be taking place online.

2020 RSL Ondaatje Prize Winner

The poet Roger Robinson has been named as the winner of this years RSL Ondaatje prize. He was awarded the prize, which is worth £10,000, for “A Portable Paradise”, his profoundly moving collection of poetry which included a sequence that reflected on the tragedy of the fire at Grenfell Tower.

The prize is an annual celebration and can be awarded for the best work of non-fiction, poetry or fiction that best creates a sense of place. The announcement was made on 4th May. Last year A Portable Paradise was named the winner of the T.S Eliot Prize.

Speaking in an interview, Robinson said that winning the prize was fantastic on a number of levels. He was glad that the political issues that he had raised in the book would potentially gain wider recognition, but he was also hoping that this might mean more people understanding about the black community in the UK and the struggles that they face.

He is an educator and writer who has performed and taught all over the world and was recently chosen by Decibel as one of the 50 writers who has had a significant influence on the writing canon of the black British.

Robinson is also a co-founder of Malika’s Kitchen, an international writing collection, and the Spoke lab, and the lead lyricist and vocalist for King Midas Sound.

His poetry collection was selected from a shortlist that included Jay Bernard’s Surge, a collection that won the 2017 Ted Hughes poetry award.

Russian Victory Day Celebrations go Online

As the coronavirus pandemic continues and countries extend their lockdown deadlines, the annual Victory Day celebrations, which would be taking place on 9th May have been forced to move online. Towards the end of April, President Putin was adamant that the annual celebrations which see the glory of the Russian army parading across Red Square and past the tomb of Lenin would be taking place. However, increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths in the country have put paid to the idea.

The cultural centres and libraries at the heart of the capital have taken up the challenge, and despite the fact that the main event will be postponed they are determined that there will be some form of celebration.

These celebrations will take the form of a series of readings that will be broadcast on YouTube, with extracts from Victor Dragunsky’s “He Fell on the Grass” and a series of lectures about the war that will be held by the House of Gogol. There will also be lectures on Viktor Nekrasov, the writer, the poet Boris Smolensky.

The planned events will begin online today (6th May) and will run until 13th May. There will be events aimed at children as well as those that might interest adults. There will be lectures, poetry reading and films.

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