The Race against Time/The Bristol Poet/Poetry for Christmas – Poetry news roundup November 15th

In today’s poetry round up we bring you the race against time faced by the man writing the biography of Seamus Heaney, controversy surrounding the post of city poet for Bristol and the company who want to replace Christmas cards with poetry pamphlets.

Race Against Time

For award winning, Irish biographer Fintan O’Toole the race is well and truly on. O’Toole recently approached the family of the late Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, with an idea he had for an authorised biography of the poet based on his correspondence. Whilst it wasn’t something the late poet’s family had been considering they were impressed by O’Toole’s proposals and felt that as a fellow Irish man he would be able to do full justice to the biography.

The problem O’Toole faces is that whilst Heaney was a keen correspondent, his preferred method of communication was the fax machine, towards the end Faber who were his publishers kept a fax machine that was devoted solely to correspondence with Heaney. And that in itself presents a huge problem because faxes fade over time. Heaney died in 2013 so even the faxes he sent just before his death will already be over 3 years old. O’Toole in a race against time to track down just who Heaney faxed and then locate those faxes and read them before the contents is lost forever.

Heaney died when he was just 74 so many of his contemporaries, the people he communicated with by fax are still around, this gives O’Toole a fascinating angle for his biography and certainly one that is a little different to what might normally appear in one.

If O’Toole is successful this biography which will be published by Faber and Faber promises to offer the public a unique portrait of the poet.

New City Poet for Bristol Causes Controversy

Bristol are on the lookout for a new city poet, the current poet Miles Chambers has held the position for a year now and will be leaving the position in January 2018.

The new city poet will be required to produce a total of 10 poems during their spell as city poet, these will be for specific events or projects, as well as attending a number of public performances and community events. The post offers an annual fee of £5000 and it is this fee that has some councillors up in arms.

Richard Eddy, who is a Conservative councillor for Bishopsworth believes that there are a huge number of very talented poets in the area who would be more than happy to take up the role for the prestige alone. He says he is horrified that with the council in the process of making budget cuts of around £100 million they should be, in his words “wasting money paying for a poet”.

Poetry Pamphlets

9 years ago, Candlestick Press in Nottinghamshire launches with the idea of persuading people to send poetry pamphlets to their loved ones at Christmas rather than cards. This year as we enter the festive season they can once again be found frequenting the Christmas markets and they have six brand new festive titles in their range, including anthologies of poems by well-known contemporary poets.

The idea behind their pamphlets is to revive the festive tradition of reading by the fire.

What do you think of the idea of poetry pamphlets instead of Christmas cards?

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