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Poetry

National Endowment for the Arts Reveals Poetry Out Loud Finals

poetryOn April 29-30, 53 high school students from across the nation will gather in Washington, DC for the 9th annual National Finals of Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest.

At the event, hosted by Neda Ulaby, Arts & Culture Reporter for National Public Radio, these teens will recite poems on stage in a public forum in order to compete for the top award. Guest judges include poets Ming Di, Valerie Martínez, novelist Tope Folarin, Poets House Director Lee Briccetti, and actor/performer Chris Sarandon.

The finalists have been narrowed down from a pool of 365,000 entrants from more than 2,300 schools nationwide. The top finalists and their schools will receive $50,000 in awards. The public is free to attend, and the event will also be webcast live.

Darren Aronofsky’s 7th Grade Poem Inspired Him to Adapt ‘Noah’

Noah DirectorFilmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s desire to adapt the story of “Noah’s Ark” originates from a seventh grade poetry assignment. Aronofsky (pictured, via) wrote “The Dove,” his own version of the famous biblical tale, after his teacher Vera Fried asked her students to “write a poem about peace.”

According to Variety, he credits Fried as the person who inspired him “to become a writer.” Indiewire has posted the poem in its entirety; here’s an excerpt:

“The rain continued through the night
And the cries of screaming men filled the air
The ark was afloat
Until the dove returned with the leaf
Evil still existed.”

David Tennant Reads ‘Sonnet 126′ by William Shakespeare

Happy National Poetry Month! To kick off this month-long celebration, we’ve dug up a video featuring Dr. Who actor David Tennant reading William Shakespeare’s “Sonnet 126.”

Tennant delivered this performance for Touch Press’ 2012 iPad app, “The Sonnets.” Additionally, Tennant recorded recitations of sonnets #12, #18, and #71 for this app. What’s your favorite Shakespearean sonnet?

J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘Beowulf’ Translation to Be Published

TolkienJ.R.R. Tolkien‘s translation Beowulf will be published a full-fledged book entitled Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary. The Guardian reports that The Lord of the Rings series author (pictured, via) completed his translation back in 1926.

Additional content within the book includes some of Tolkien’s lectures on the Old English poem. Tolkien’s son, Christopher, will serve as the editor of this project.

According to The Bookseller, HarperCollins has the UK rights and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt acquired the US rights. The publishers aim to release the finished hardcover book in May 2014.

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8th Grader’s Poem Draws 144,000+ Tweets

A palindromic poem written by a 14-year-old named Jordan Nichols went viral after his older brother Derek tweeted a photo of it (embedded above). The piece, entitled “Our Generation,” has attracted more than 144,000 retweets.

According to The Independent, the poem “at first appears to paint a gloomy picture of modern society and one obsessed with careers and money…In reverse the poem is a lot more optimistic, a declaration of hope full of the kind of one-liners you would expect in a presidential address, and all this from an 8th grader.”

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Viral Video Features a Man Who Wants ‘Girls Who Read’

Are you spending Valentine’s Day with a bibliophile? For one man, he wants a girl “with passion, wit, and dreams… So I want a girl who reads.”

The video embedded above features a recitation of a poem called “Girls Who Read.” Roundhouse, a London-based art studio, uploaded the video onto their YouTube channel. Back in November 2013, the video went viral drawing more than 3 million views.

Poet Mark Grist created the poem and performed the reading featured in this video. Filmmaker Guy Larsen served as the director. Larsen wrote two blog posts showcasing behind-the-scenes photos. What do you think?

Poet Maxine Kumin Has Died

maxinekuminU.S. poet laureate Maxine Kumin has died at the age of 88, reports The Associated Press. Kumin, the author of dozens of poems, as well as works of fiction, nonfiction and a memoir, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for “Up Country.”

Here is more from the AP: “The Bennett Funeral Home in Concord says Kumin, who wrote more than three dozen books of poetry, fiction, non-fiction and children’s literature, died Thursday at her home in Warner after a year of failing health. Kumin was an advocate for women writers, human and political justice and animal rights. Her final work, “And Short the Season,” is scheduled to be released later this year.”

Kumin got her start publishing poems in The New Yorker. The magazine has paid tribute to the poet by sharing an audio recording of Kumin reading “Truth.”

Mexican Poet Jose Emilio Pacheco Has Died

joseemilioMexican poet Jose Emilio Pacheco died on Sunday. He was 74 years old.

Pacheco was the author of numerous volumes of poetry, as well as a number of short stories and essays. His poetry collections included: Los elementos de la nocheEl reposo del fuego; and La arena errante. He was the recipient of dozens of esteemed literary awards in his career including winning the Reina Sofía Award and the esteemed Cervantes Prize in 2009.

Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts revealed the news of Pacheco’s passing on their site. “As a writer he received all the awards in Mexico and in our language can be granted and his work was translated and published in many countries and closer through his translations of some of the most important works of the twentieth century and authors like Oscar Wilde, Tennessee Williams and TS Elliot,” said Rafael Tovar, president of Mexico’s National Council for Culture and Arts in a ceremony honoring Pacheco. (Via NPR).

Maya Angelou Pens Tribute Poem to Honor Nelson Mandela

Acclaimed author Maya Angelou has written a tribute poem, entitled “His Day is Done,” to honor former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela.

We’ve embedded a video with a reading of the poem above–what do you think? AL.com reports that this piece was commissioned by the U.S. State Department.

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James Carling’s ‘Raven’ Illustrations on Kickstarter

The Poe Museum hopes to raise $60,000 to preserve a collection of illustrations inspired by Edgar Allan Poe’s beloved poem, “The Raven.” The money will also be used to create and publish a coffee table-style book.

According to The Huffington Post, artist James Carling created these art pieces 130 years ago. We’ve embedded a video about the project above. Here’s more from the Kickstarter page:

“The amount of conservation will vary from piece to piece. They will be professionally photographed and placed into a gallery frame for inclusion in a traveling exhibition. A large part of the money will be used to prepare and publish the book which will contain all 43 original illustrations. The small staff of the museum will also be working on writing all 43 catalog entries for inclusion in the book.”

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