Wordsworth Rewrite/Ovid’s Trigger Warning – Poetry News Roundup November 9th

Today’s poetry round-up looks at a modern-day rewrite of a Wordsworth poem and the latest translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses.

21st Century Rewrite of Poem on exhibition at Wordsworth Grasmere

It is a little over 200 years since William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote about poverty in the Georgian era, and now a charity has created an updated version of the poem to look at the modern-day situation of homelessness.

The new poem “Refuge from the Ravens” is a 21st-century update on Lyrical Ballads, and it is the collaboration of over 100 individuals who have themselves been affected by homelessness. The poem will be available to view as an exhibit at Wordsworth Grasmere until the end of 2022.

The original which was part of a 1798 book of poetry that included stories about poor people who walked the roads of a country that at the time was in turmoil. Social inequality and homelessness are both still societal issues.

The group who are behind the rewrite are Zweibelfish CIC. They are a community interest company with a significant focus on social justice and arts. They work with those individuals who are marginalised to help bring them together using art as their medium. The group and the individuals who were in the project were given access to the Wordsworth Grasmere archival section – this is access that is usually only extended to academics.

The exhibition also featured work by people who have been affected by homelessness, as well as other vulnerable individuals who are currently living in Cumbria, Greater Manchester and Liverpool. Through artwork, songs, poems and film, their story will be told.

One of the individuals involved in the project said that whilst Wordsworth himself would certainly have written about the issue of homelessness as it is today. However, he believes that the poet would have been incredibly frustrated that there is so much will from the public to assist those who are in poverty yet there doesn’t seem to be the same sense of importance from politicians.

Lyrical Ballads is a reflection of the voices of those people who are not always heard.

From 3rd February to 6th May 2023 “Refuge from the Ravens” will be on display at Bury Art Museum. The Heritage Fund has supported the project.

Should there be a Trigger Warning for Ovid’s Metamorphoses?

A new translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses has recently been released, and it takes a much deeper look at the issues of sexual violence that the poem contains than previous versions. These are references that have often been obscured through the use of euphemisms.

Lines of Latin that had previously been attributed to having been from the Bible are not. In fact the author of the new book states it is from a book of rather risqué poetry that was published when Augustus was emperor. The writer of this original book offers advice on the seduction of women, especially those who are married

Metamorphoses itself was no stranger to controversies when it was first written. In fact, Ovid was exiled at one point. Now this new book has been translated by Stephanie McCarter it offers a different view. There have been many translations of Ovid’s epic poem, but this one takes a more honest and open look at the true message of some of the lines whilst also taking into account the background of the poet.



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