The English Romantic poet John Keats died way back in 1821 but this has not seen his reputation or readership diminish. This was seen recently when one of Keat’s love letters, written in 1820,was sold at auction for £96,000 (around $154,000). Written just one year before his death, the letter was address to his fiancée Frances ‘Fanny’ Brawne who would be just 20 years old when Keats died of tuberculosis.
It is an interesting fact that during the 19th Century, Keat’s letters, of which there are many, were considered unworthy of attention with critics preferring to focus solely on his poetry, for which he’d become most well-known. However, during the next century, his letters gained in importance and eventually regarded just as highly as his poems. The great T. S. Eliot once said of Keat’s letters that they were “certainly the most notable and most important ever written by any English poet.”
The letter was originally written in the Hampstead area of London and this is where it is set to stay. The City of London Corporation is the buyer behind the large auction price and they are also the managers of Keat’s old home which is now a museum dedicated to his works. The letter will go on permanent display there for all to see. Keats is believed to have written 30 love letters in total and this one was the last to still be in private hands.
There is a sadness behind the letter for when it was written Keats was seriously ill with the contagious disease tuberculosis which would finally take his life the next year. The lovers could therefore not be physically intimate and this is written about in the lines:
“I shall Kiss your name and mine where your Lips have been – Lips! Why should a poor prisoner as I am talk about such things.”
“Thank God, though I hold them the dearest pleasures in the universe, I have a consolation independent of them in the certainty of your affectation.”
John Keats is one of England’s most revered poets and it is only fitting that one of his last love letters should find a home where it now does at Keat’s House. His wonderful work is an inspiration to many throughout the world and his life is one that has been read about and even dramatized in a recent film. ‘Bright Star’ (2009), starring Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw tells the story of the young poet and his love for Fanny Brawne.
This fair month of March has battles seen,
Both on the ground and in the skies,
And heard its share of cries and screams,
As rockets fall and sirens preen,
Where lives are lost; tragic goodbyes.
Calm, sun, we drove by fields of green,
From which birds sing of summer’s face,
Above blades of grass that sand erase,
And bright colored flowers akin to lace.
Israel, brave land of many dreams,
And countless varied themes.
The sound, sounds out across the port
As traffic halts and people run;
I take my love, by hand exhort
Toward the rocket shelter court,
Where small girls weep at fears begun.
Calm, sun, we walked by the sea’s rapport,
My love and I with worries few,
Across the golden sand in view,
Across the silver water’s brew,
And on, barefoot to passions shared;
Intimate cares declared.
© Edward Beaman-Hodgkiss
I’ve been in Israel for around 2 months now. Already I have been through two rocket sirens and heard news of various attacks on the country where I reside. For years my love for Israel has been strong, steady and unflinching and after 8 weeks in the land itself, I feel even stronger in my respect, passion and love for this amazing and unique little country. This poem is dedicated to my dear girlfriend Simona who has made my stay in Israel even more magical and special.
‘Poetry’, a moving South Korean film that studies conflicting human emotions, has been awarded top prize at the 25th Fribourg International Film Festival in Switzerland. The movie, which was written by South Korea’s former cultural minister Lee Chang-dong, studies the effects of rape, guilt, passion, anger, dementia and a growing awareness of creativity. The story is based around one 66 year old lady named Mija who lives with her grandson who suddenly develops a need to write poetry.
Having received rave reviews in South Korea and amongst foreign audiences, ‘Poetry’ is Chang-dong Lee’s fifth feature film and has also won an award from the International Federation of the Cinematographic Press as well as best screenplay award at the Cannes Film Festival of 2010. The film is certainly one for audiences who like to see the complexities of life laid bare and will most certainly appeal to international movie buffs who enjoy East Asian cinema. For poets, it is a must-see.
Mija, the central character, is a strong woman who faces one hardship after another. She knows her grandson is guilty of a terrible gang-rape of a young teenage girl who later commits suicide. Her angst is further intensified by the way the boys fathers cover-up the crime. Her strained relationship with her grandson, who is addicted to modern technology, as well as her battle with encroaching dementia, all seem to point to a woman on the edge of breaking.
That is until she discovers the magic of poetry and enrols herself onto a course to better understand how to compose a poem. The catalyst for this is a long forgotten memory from her childhood when a teacher told her she had a gift for writing verse. Some of the most beautiful and poignant scenes in the film take place in the poetry class where discussions on poetry and life are seen and heard. For poets watching this film, many wonderful lessons and ways of viewing the world and poetry writing will be gained. It is a reflective salute to the art of poetry from South Korea.
It was released in the United States on 11 February 2011.
Wedding invitations have for centuries been a vital element in pre-wedding organisation. After all, what is one of the most special days in anyone’s life without friends and guests there to enjoy the occasion too? Wedding invites are usually sent through the post a few weeks or months in advance of the big day. Most people will have been to a wedding before and will also have received wedding invitations in one form or another. It’s thus important and desirable to make yours stand-out so people will know instantly your wedding day is going to be one to remember and a must-go-to event.
Weddings are very expensive and the invitations, whilst important, need not become one of the major financial headaches if a little creativity is involved. Whilst most people think primarily of the lettering style and layout of the invitation, few consider how the words are put together and then read. Instead of boring and unoriginal prose, one should consider instead a poem that will both welcome the recipient and convey clearly the details and time of the wedding day.
Poetic wedding invitations do not have to be incredibly long. In a few short lines, all the information required can be presented in a memorable, sophisticated, attractive and even humorous fashion. The names of the bride and groom will of course need to be incorporated at the beginning, followed by the date, time and location of the wedding ceremony. Whilst they can be written in the classical but rather uninspiring format, it is understandably better if the words scan poetically and leave guests reading the invite again and again just for the sheer enjoyment of the poem.
The wedding invitation card itself can then be decorated depending on the location and/or theme of the wedding. For example, if the event is taking place on a beach in summer, then tropical palm trees, sand and sea motifs will be an idea. Alternatively, if the ceremony is in church and you and your guests are devout Christians, then symbols of Christianity will be most suitable. In the latter case, religious terminology can also be used in the invitation poem.
Are you getting married soon and want to send poetic wedding invitations to family and friends? I can write you a beautifully simple invite in the form of a poem with the time, date, location and names of the lucky couple as well as any other information or phrases you would also like incorporated. Contact me.
Suicide among young people is a problem facing many societies today. Whilst friends and family might be aware of a young person’s desires to end their lives, most do not know how to help or prevent the terrible feelings which lead to tragic events. However, one group of people hope poetry and related creative arts will push the message across that suicide is not the answer and help increase understanding of things such as depression, anxiety and family breakdown.
The Alaska Association of Student Governments (AASG) has arranged a media contest to take place in April of this year. During this period, students from across the northern American state are invited “to enter skits, songs, poems, digital stories and posters, among other things, to encourage others to mindfully make healthy choices”. The Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium has also joined forces with the AASG and has sponsored the event.
Organisers hope that the media coverage and beautiful creations will spread awareness both to potential victims and also to family, friends and employers that suicide is a big problem and needs to be addressed and understood. Creative practices such as poetry, art and drama are also useful tools in helping traumatised or depressed individuals and thus the connection between this contest and the subject at hand is a particularly apt one.
The results of the contest will be announced in mid-April at the AASG Spring Conference in Cordova and winners will receive $2,000 in prizes and cash. A member of Alaskan Careline Crisis Intervention said that the awareness of suicide and the aim to highlight the problem through poetry, writing, theatre and art has really galvanised children throughout the state and made them think that they can really make a difference.
You can find more information on this here: AASG Suicide Prevention and Media Contest.
At the time Mr Van Rompuy unexpectedly beat Tony Blair and other individuals to the EU presidency a year ago, he had been Belgian prime minister for under 12 months. His poetry started to show up in Belgian newspapers. Van Rompuy, identified by some people as Haiku Herman, will publish a new book of poems next calendar month.
He was initially bitten by the haiku bug in the early Noughties, by way of a friendly relationship with the man recognized as “Flanders’ Father of Haiku” (a senior priest, Bart Mesotten who gifted him one of his poetry books). Van Rompuy continues to be criticized as incredibly dull since he ended up being selected for the EU’s leading position in the Autumn however some declare his haikus as more energetic.
A devout Roman Catholic and a man of simple pleasures, he takes part in frequent retreats at Affligem Abbey, a Benedictine monastery situated in his homeland. He decided not to campaign for the position of European president, and prior to the Belgian king persuading him into becoming leader, he seemed to be moving in the direction of a comfy retirement centered on literature, faith, country strolls and moreover family life.
Everyone who makes an attempt to understand his personality through his haiku, may ponder as to whether he may have favored that tranquil life to the actual position he’s finished up in. Nevertheless he claims this isn’t the case. Fiona Sampson, who is the editor of Poetry Review, suggests reading through Mr Van Rompuy’s haiku is similar to taking a look at “someone’s holiday snaps”.
The book of haiku is due to be published on the 15th of April.