Following our coverage of the Forward Poetry Prize, and discussions on poetry at the Culture Wars forum and Battle of Ideas festival in London, Culture Wars is soliciting further articles about contemporary poetry and its place in the broader culture, with a view to expanding and improving our coverage of poetry.

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Thursday 10 November 2011

Alien England

English Journey: Re-Imagined, Barbican, London, Saturday 22 October

Vivid scattergun readings by Sinclair and Moore, whose striking first-person narrative was a moving insight into the tragedy of the story, compellingly transported the audience to Clare’s countryside. What the ensuing witch-hanging-blackface-jig-metal-pounding lacked in consistency or subtlety, it made up for in genuine lunacy.

Paul Kilbey in • PoetryMusic
Friday 27 May 2011


Tracey Emin: Love Is What You Want, Hayward Gallery, London

My lines, my drawings, my sweethearts, wispy-haired and still blue
From an unfortunate birth that was quite dangerous
I am still here watching you

Tuesday 23 March 2010

An urban bucolic

Shad Thames, Broken Wharf, Jamboree, Cable Street Studios, London

The music’s emotional ebbs, together with the projection of Jack Wake-Walker’s beautiful shots of the Thames and of crossing cranes against the sky, seemed to be redeeming the presence of The Restructure; they opposed the most human to the least soulful.

Friday 13 November 2009

Protest as performance

Eloquent Protest, Duke of Yorks Theatre, Sunday 8 November 2009

It was a shame we didn’t see the Shirleys again, as their upskittling shenanigans had us laughing, then in true Brecht/Frisch style, asking ‘Why are we laughing at this; and why are we laughing at it here?’ They made us uncomfortable. Shouldn’t we feel uncomfortable? Isn’t that, to some extent, the point?

Friday 6 November 2009

In defence of poetry

On the controversy over ‘Education for Leisure’, by Carol Ann Duffy

Are the implications of the poem that going out with a bread-knife is as much a desperate act as calculated violence? This is where Duffy takes the cultural risk, where poetry becomes dangerous, unflinching.

Wes Brown in • Poetry
Friday 16 October 2009

Stop Motion

The Cinder Path, by Andrew Motion (Faber 2009)

There is still a place for the Poet Laureate in our society. Poetry makes the transition from something private to something that can be appreciated more widely when it strikes, like that errant ‘sun-shaft’, upon emotions and experiences that are in some sense universal, or in other words, human.

Friday 10 July 2009

Getting the joke

The Migraine Hotel, by Luke Kennard (Salt)

This human failure to connect is one of Kennard’s recurring motifs. His poems are filled with jokes which do not have the desired effect: either because the listener is over-literal (the hyper-intelligent Wolf, a returning character from the last collection), humourless (the jaded, post-ironic artist girlfriend in ‘A Sure-Fire Sign’) or because the signification system has collapsed so far in his absurdist universe that even those laughing aren’t sure.

Amazing words

The Quickening Maze, by Adam Foulds (Jonathan Cape)

Adam Foulds’ new novel recounts the life, loves and madness of John Clare, poster-boy poet of romantic environmentalists and it-once-was Englanders. Can we bracket him so easily and read him as nothing more than a lament for a natural world destroyed in front of his eyes? Or does his life and poetry tell us something more important about civilisation than it does about nature?

Thursday 30 April 2009

Obama Poetry: the Politician as Muse

Seen through the poems, President Obama is emphatically not a blank screen. He has come to represent the possibility of American redemption, the possibility of reclaiming the moral high ground— and he is valued by people, and poets, as a way to elevate their own views by associating them with him.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

The staged page

Is there a difference between poetry as text and poetry performed?

So many factors: if a performer plays a poet who reads a poem, he is firstly performing a poet, then performing a poet’s voice, all this before the actual poem. To deliver the poem then, even if he just ‘reads’ , it would be a performance regardless of how pared down a delivery it is.

Wednesday 18 March 2009

Shoreditch was always where it’s at

Shakespeare in Shoreditch, South of the Border, London

The merit of this event, and more generally of the London Word Festival, lies first of all in providing a platform for the sort of literary enterprise that would otherwise remain untried or unnoticed.

Friday 30 January 2009

An ugly sort of beauty

Eunoia, by Christian Bök (Cannongate Books)

Serious thought is rarely ever ‘beautiful’ but often draining, difficult and even depressing: but the products of it, especially artistic, often achieve beauty and clarity.

Wednesday 19 March 2008

The words on the page

Archive Hour: The Larkin Tapes, BBC Radio 4, 1 March 2008

Philip Larkin rarely gave readings of his poems. Asked why in an interview with the Paris Review [PDF], he explained that to hear a poem as opposed to reading it on the page means that, for better or worse, the speaker will interpose their personality between poem and audience, obscuring, maligning and interfering with the poem itself.

The steely progression of entropy

Los Alamos Mon Amour, by Simon Barraclough

For me, the city of Florence means the Renaissance. For Simon Barraclough, it means Hannibal. In his debut collection, Los Alamos Mon Amour, culture as we know it has been annihilated by an atom bomb, specifically one designed at the eponymous US laboratory.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Man in Black

David Caddy

There’s nothing very obviously wrong with this collection. There are some wonderful moments of euphony, such as in the sequence ‘Shuffling the Icons Shaking the Trees’:

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See poetry-queen Shirley Dent’s Guardian Unlimited Arts Blog

Published poet, Ion Martea, defends poetry for pleasure, in a Battle in Print, Of one who must be happy: an argument for poetry in relationship to please

James Wilkes gives a response to the Battle of Ideas debate, Should Poetry Please?

Bloodaxe Books

Hear poets read their work at the online poetry archive

Listen to Radio 4’s Poetry Please and the BBC’s poetry out loud

Penned in the Margins puts on UK-wide literature events, along with resident poet and Culture Wars contributor, Tom Chivers

See also Salt Publishing

Monthly contemporary poetry at Poetry Magazine

The Poetry Society

The Poetry Book Society

The Poetry Book Foundation

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