Sassoon Film/Emre Remembered/New Minnesota Poet Laureate – Poetry News Roundup September 13th

We begin the week with a look at the new film about the life of Siegfried Sassoon, the 700th death anniversary of Yunus Emre and the new Minnesota poet laureate.

Benediction Screened at Toronto Film Festival

The piercingly sad drama of the life of the poet and soldier Siegfried Sassoon, for which a release date has yet to be announced, is currently being screened at the Toronto Film Festival.

Terence Davies’ biopic, which stars Jack Lowden and Jeremy Irvine is melancholy, and at times often very difficult to watch. This is an incredibly sombre film that depicts the poet’s life with archive footage of World War I and at times grim clinical photos interspersed through the acted scenes. It looks at his life in the trenches and how he inspired and befriended Wilfred Owen. It also examines his unhappy gay relationships and the agony that these encounters caused in his life. It follows him through a very unhappy marriage and his conversion to Catholicism, and the derision he encountered from this from his son.

The first film’s reviews feel this is a return for Davies to his earlier film making, it is dark, brittle and at times incredibly difficult to watch but at the same time there is something compelling about the film.

700th Death Anniversary of Yunus Emre Commemorated

The folk poet, Yunus Emre, has been commemorated by the Izmir Metropolitan Municipality on the occasion of the 700th anniversary of his death. The poet was one of the pioneers of the Sufi poetry movement.

The commemoration events included am Oratorio Concert, which took place thanks to a collaboration between the International Organisation of Turkish Culture and the State Opera and Ballet Company of Izmir. A plaque in recognition of the poet was presented to the Deputy Secretary-General of the region.

Emre lived from 1238 to 1328, he was a folk poet and Sufi and is credited with being the pioneer of Turkish poetry in the Anatolia region. He was the founder of the unique style of poetry in the field of Turkish Sufi literature, and he also introduce lodge poetry, a tradition that was started by fellow poet Ahmed Yesevi.

His poetry was incredibly popular during the 14th century but over time interest in his verse dwindled. During the 20th century however, it picked up popularity once again. In 1991 the 750th Anniversary of his birth was celebrated by UNESCO.

New poet Laureate for Minnesota

Gwen Nell Westerman, a professor of English at Minnesota State University, Mankato has been named as the newest poet laureate for the state. Westerman is Dakota, is the first Native American to be appointed to the position.

She is a winner of two Minnesota Book Awards for her writing on the Dakota people. She wrote her first poetry book “Follow the Blackbirds” in both Dakota and English, and both her essays and poems have been published widely. She is also a quilt artist and some of her work forms part of the Minnesota Historical Society permanent collection.

She takes over the role from Joyce Sutphen who resigned this year having held the post since 2011. The first poet laureate for the state was Robert Bly who was inaugurated in 2008.

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