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Amir Darwish on BBC Radio 4 Start the Week!

Posted on November 09, 2015 by Sophie O'Neill | 0 comments

Anne McElvoy presented a special edition of Start the Week this morning featuring Smokestack poet, Amir Darwish.  This was recorded at the Free Thinking Festival which took place at our very own Sage, Gateshead last weekend.

The session explored injustice, myth and the role of the poet 'to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides'.  Amir talked of exile and read poems from his collection, Don't Forget the Couscous. He was joined by Claudia Rankine, Catherine Fletcher and Jules Holroyd. 

If you missed the broadcast this morning, you can listen to it here.

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Ben Okri Pens an Ode to Jeremy Corbyn

Posted on October 13, 2015 by Sophie O'Neill | 0 comments

It’s like watching a love affair unravel before our eyes. Jeremy Corbyn calls Ben Okri a genius and inspiration in his conference speech, Ben Okri responds with a poem published in the Guardian titled A New Dream of Politics.

But we live in times that have lost
This tough art of dreaming the best for its people,
Or so we are told by the cynics
And doomsayers who see the end
Of time in blood-red moons.

Always when least expected an unexpected
Figure rises when dreams here have
Become like ashes.

Politics and poetry is nothing new, just look at many of the titles selling on this site. Over the last month alone we have had Michael Rosen mixing the political and the personal, the refugee experience from Amir Darwish, Jess Green’s internet sensation Dear Mr Gove - to name but a few.

To have a party leader quoting modern writers, with artists and poets responding with publicly published poems gives me a little shiver of excitement. Is the rest of the country about to realise what our Inpress publishers and customers already know? Poetry and literature is very relevant to our everyday lives, poetry is a way of expressing opinion in a few words, not an inaccessible, impenetrable art form. Poetry needs to be an everyday part of any readers’ life.

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