Poet Honoured On Banknote/Poetry In Lockdown – Poetry News Roundup November 24th

Today in our poetry news round-up we take a look at the Mexican banknote honouring a poet and Simon Armitage’s latest project.

100 Peso Note Honours Poet

Last week the Banco de Mexico issued its latest banknote. The 100 peso note it the third one to be released in the “G” series, it is the first one to be made using polymer and also the first one that has been made in the vertical format.

The other notes in the series, the 200- and 500-peso notes are printed using a cotton substrate.

The 100-peso note is red, measures 132 by 65 millimetres and is the only one so far in the new series to feature the slightly unusual vertical orientation.

The design of this note is inspired by the colonial period and show the figure of Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz, who is considered to be one of the most important writers and poets of the Novo-Hispanic literary period. The portrait of Sor Juana Ines is featured, together with a vignette which shows a section of the Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso’s main patio, which is not far from the historic centre of Mexico City. This was a landmark during the Spanish colonial era for educational services.

The back of the note, in keeping with a theme already seen on the 200- and 500-peso notes of the “G” series, features an image of one of the ecosystems of Mexico. In this case, it is the temperate forest, which is illustrated with the oak, pine and oyamel trees that are found on the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. The reserve is a UNESCO natural world heritage site.

The other notes shoe the coastline of Mexico with the sea and the island ecosystem of Baja California’s El Vizcaino Biosphere Reserve, and the scrubland and desert ecosystem that is found in the Sonara’s Picacate and Gran Desierto de Altar Biosphere Reserve.

Sor Juana Ines was a child prodigy. She learned to read at the age of 3. Aged 8 she wrote eucharistic praise and whilst she was still a child, she learned Latin in just 20 lessons. She joined the Royal court in 1665, working in service for the wife of a viceroy. She entered the San Jose Carmelite convent in 1667, however, she had to leave shortly after due to ill health She eventually joined the San Jeronimo convent where she lived for the rest of her life. She died in 1695 of the plague which she contracted whilst nursing some of the other sisters from her order.

Poetry in Lockdown

When the first lockdown began back in March, people turned to music and poetry to help lift their spirits and fill the void that had been created.

Choir rehearsals stopped and singing was considered to be high risk, as the very act of singing increased the risk of spreading the virus,

The poet laureate Simon Armitage was inspired by his childhood memories of the choral societies he associated with his hometown of Huddersfield and set about creating lyrics for not one but 2 new works. These works which are now complete express just some of the frustrations and emotions that we have all felt during the lockdown.

Following Covid friendly rehearsals, of groups of no more than 15, the Huddersfield choral society is now ready to premier video performances of both next Saturday.

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