Nobel Literature Prize Controversy/Russian Poet’s Google Doodle – Poetry News Roundup November 20th

Today in our poetry news round-up, we take a look at the controversy surrounding the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. We also look at the Google Doodle dedicated to a Russian poet.

Nobel Committee defends Winner

The Swedish Academy have found themselves in a position where they have had to defend their decision over their recently named winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Kosovo Academy of Science and Arts wrote to the Nobel Committee back in October to express their unhappiness at the decision to award the prize to Peter Handke, the Austrian writer and poet.

They believe that Handke, who has previously expressed his very public sympathies for Slobodan Milosevic the former Serbian leader, should not have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Milosevic was indicted for crimes against humanity and mass genocide.

The Kosovo ambassador to the US has previously described the situation as shameful and preposterous.

The Swedish Academy have responded to the complaints, stating the award has been given to Handke not for the person he is but as a celebration of his literary work, which is extraordinary. They believe that when it comes to writers, society should accept that there will be differences of opinion.

Handke has written essays, poetry, novel, dramas and even worked on films during his lengthy career. However, all of this is, in part, shadowed by the sympathy he expressed for Serbia during the reign of Milosevic. He even attended Milosevic’s funeral in 2006 and made a speech.

In 1999 Handke was also given a Yugoslav passport.

In response to the announcement by the Swedish Academy, there have been protests outside the Swedish Embassy located in Sarajevo. The two groups who protested the Mothers of Srebrenica and the Association of Victims and Witnesses of Genocide have promised that if the decision to award the prize to Handke goes ahead they will also protest on 10th December when the award ceremony is due to take place.

150th Birthday of Russian Poet Celebrated With Google Doodle

The Google Doodle for 20th November celebrates the life of Zinaida Gippius, the Russian author and poet.

Gippius was born in 1869 in Belyov, she wrote plays, novels, stories and poetry. She is known as one of the most renowned feminine journalists to have emerged from Russia. She is also considered to be one of the authors of the Symbolist movement in Russia.

She was married to Dmitry Merezhkovsky, a fellow poet who was also a key player in the Symbolist movement. The pair met when she was just 19 and were married shortly after. Zinaida demanded that their marriage was one of total gender equality. Following the 1905 revolution, the couple spent a lot of their time living and travelling abroad, including receiving treatment for health issues.

They were critical of the 1917 October revolution and in 1919 they emigrated, choosing to settle in Poland. This was short-lived, and they moved to France and then Italy. When her husband died in 1941 Zinaida was heartbroken and she died only a few years later in 1945.

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