In today’s poetry news round-up, we take a look at the poetry being given as a gift to newlyweds, the new youth poet laureate for Houston and the book awards voted for by the British public.
National Poem Gift for Newlyweds
The government in Georgia has started giving newlyweds a rather unusual gift with their marriage certificate. In a new initiative, the couples will receive a copy of the national poem “The Knight in the Panther’s Skin”.
This isn’t actually as odd as it sounds. Up until the early 20th century, the poem was offered as part of a dowry for every bride. The Minister of Justice, who has implemented the initiative, is again referring to this gift as a “dowry”
He states that each couple will receive a copy of the poem when they are given their wedding certificate
The poem, which was written by Shota Rustaveli, the national poet of Georgia in the 12th Century, is an epic romance that recounts the tale of a friendship between two great heroes and the quest they undertake to find love. The poem is so well known within Georgia that it is often quoted in day to day conversation.
There was some amusement from people in Georgia with people taking to social media to comment. One poster asked the Minister what they might get if they got divorced!
New Youth Poet Laureate for Houston
Jackson Neal, a 19-year-old student at Houston University, has been named as the fourth Youth Poet Laureate of the city. Neal is a double major studying creative writing and arts administration.
In fact, he was in class writing notes on his laptop when he heard the news. An email notification popped up on his screen causing him to jump up in the middle of class.
As part of his role as Young Poet Laureate, a position which last for a year, Neal will be required to be an advocate for creativity and literacy in Houston, especially to younger people.
Neal says that he is influenced by music in particular but admires the work of the poet Ocean Vuong, who was last years winner of the T.S. Eliot prize.
The UK’s Favourite Book of 2018
The British public have been voting again, this time for their favourite book of 2018.
The Books Are My Bag Readers Awards is the only book related award that is voted on by the public, and this year there were over 55,000 votes over all the categories. The winner of the favourite book of 2018 was “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman.
This year saw the inaugural Poetry Award, which was taken home by Pam Ayres MBE for “The Last Hedgehog”.
The awards are run as a collaboration between National Book Tokens and booksellers all over the country and is a really good gauge of what the public like, rather than what the critics prefer. It offers a real insight to booksellers as to what books are likely to be popular in their shops.