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 13 December 2007

A Look Around, A Look Back, At Critics and Poets

‘You may translate books of science exactly. You may also translate history, in so far as it is not embellished with oratory, which is poetical. Poetry, indeed, cannot be translated; and, therefore, it is the poets that preserve the languages; for we would not be at the trouble to learn a language, if we could have all that is written in it just as well in a translation. But as the beauties of poetry cannot be preserved in any language except that in which it was originally written, we learn the language.’ Johnson to Boswell, Life of Johnson

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Poetry has lost its meaning

An Australian perspective

The idea of what poetry is still seems to be alive, then, but for the most part, the word poetry is seen and heard in a sporting vernacular, not in the artistic - at least in Australia. How did it happen that the word poetry got to be about everything but poetry?

What poetry is and can be

A response to the Battle of Ideas poetry discussion, London, 28 October 2007

Poets are not legislators, even unacknowledged ones. But if they can’t practise legislation, the bringing of law, they can practise jurisdiction, the speaking of right. Society doesn’t exist except as we make it; we are not atomised selves; the practice of speaking really changes the world as experienced.

Tuesday 2 October 2007

Domestic Violence

Eavan Boland

It would be foolish to think that Domestic Violence ignores the past. Like most Irish writers, the poet is acutely aware of how intertwined past and present can be in Ireland, ‘as though the past could be present and memory itself / a Baltic honey’.

Birds with a Broken Wing

Adam Thorpe

Thorpe’s explains our failure to take flight through the lives of the ordinary man. Disasters are invoked with the mention of Hitler or Chamberlain, yet these are not the individuals who experience the true course of life.

The Harbour Beyond the Movie

Luke Kennard

A thing made is a thing created. Kennard’s poems are hugely intelligent, sympathetic, and moving things, in free verse and prose. We love what we do not understand—the beloved, to begin with, the classics of literature, art, music, and philosophy, too.

The Drowned Book

Sean O'Brien

He comes to bury Thatcher, not to praise her. The message implies that we should move on, but in many ways it seems like the poem is another elegy – not for Thatcher, but for the angry young man O’Brien was, and the old political discourse.

Monday 24 September 2007

Gift Songs

John Burnside

Burnside strives to depict the meaning of words, rather than their physical reference. This yearning to define the indefinite - like art, like religion - is both cause and consolation for a puzzling existence.

Tuesday 3 July 2007

Carbon Atom

Alexander Hutchison

Hutchison wields total mastery over English (and Scots) and shows imaginative and moving use of it (of them), invention within a gamut of genres and subjects, emotional variety and depth, and unforgettable, inexhaustible words, phrases, images, stanzas, passages, and poems instant in their force and lasting in their significance.

Thursday 1 March 2007

Generation Txt

Tom Chivers (Editor), Joe Dunthorne, Inua Ellams, Laura Forman, Abigail Oborne, James Wilkes, Emma McGordon

What is striking is that these are, first and foremost, poems. The hip, modern references serve a decorative or contextual purpose, rather than stemming from the patronising notion that the reader couldn’t understand poetry unless it’s given a relevant twist.

Monday 3 July 2006

Paradise Lost

Hackney Empire, London

Strip away the razzle dazzle, and what is left is a production stranded in its very own limbo. As Milton sagely observed, the mind is indeed capable of making a hell of heaven, a heaven of hell, but it is hard pushed to envisage either on this stage.

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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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