Blended Cultures Performance/Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest Winner – Poetry News Roundup November 17th

Todays poetry news round up takes a look at a performance that blends eastern and western cultures and the winner of this years Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest.

Eastern and Western Cultures Blended

The works of two of the great 20th century poets, one eastern and one western, are to be blended together for a centenary performance, which will take place at the Rich Mix arts centre in Bethnal Green.

The performance will be a celebration of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land and Kazi Nazrul Islam’s Bidrohi. The later is a BengaLi Poem written in 1921, which is more commonly known as The Rebel.

The performance is the work of the Saudha Society of Poetry and Indian Music and will also feature some of the famous interview that took place between Eliot and Professor Shiv Kumar when the two discussed the poet”s interpretation of Indology.

The idea is that the performance will blend Eliot repeating ‘shantih shantih shantih’ a meditative mantra in India to the poetry of Islam. Both of the chosen poems depict a wasteland, decayed but in different ways and at a time when the world was facing a period of war and moral decadence.

The poet John Farndon has been chosen to be the voice of TS Eliot for the production, with Manash Chowdhury voicing Islam.

The production is set to tour Europe starting in Bethnal Green on 14th November before moving on to Bangladesh and then India.

Winner of Australia’s Richest Poetry Prize Announced

The winner of the 2021 Helen Anne Bell Poetry Bequest has been announced as Emily Stewart, a poet from Sydney. The prize is the richest poetry prize in Australia and has a prize of $40,000. It is dedicated to celebrating poetry written by female poets. The prize is a biennial one and Stewart will be the fourth winner.

This year a record breaking 309 manuscripts, all of book-length, were submitted for the award. Running Time is the title of the winning work by Stewart. The announcement was made on Friday by Vice-Chancellor Professor Mark Scott in the Chau Chak Wing Museum of the University of Sydney. He described it as a “literary landmark in Australian arts and culture.”

Stewart works and lives on Wangal land which is located in the inner west of Sydney. She has already written several chapbooks. Her first poetry collection “Knocks” which was published in 2016 was the winner of the inaugural Noel Rowe Poetry Award.

The judges this year included several eminent poets and also a previous winner of the award. They praised the winning manuscript, saying that it was “nimble and light, precise and seemingly casual.” There were seven finalists selected from the 309 entries, and the judges were surprised not only by the quantity of entries but also the quality which made their job much harder.

The award was set up in the name of Helen Anne Bell, who was a University of Sydney student and also a poet. It supports and celebrates the role of Australian women poets in literature. The prize was increased in 2019 from just $7000 to $40,000. The winner will also have their work published by Vagabond Press.

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