Enter the National Poetry Competition
Click here to join the Poetry Society


John Glenday
The Big Push

after Sir Herbert James Gunn ‘The Eve of the Battle of the Somme’                   
 
Would you believe it, there’s a bloke out there singing 
‘When You Come to the End of a Perfect Day’.
His audience, a  sixty-pounder crew, stand round bleeding 
from the ears. The Boche are all but finished, apparently -
 
I heard they’re packing old clock parts into trench mortars 
now, for want of iron scrap. Some wag quips that next time he’s 
sentry and hears the plop of a minnenwerfer tumbling over,
he’ll not blow the alarm, he’ll shout: ‘Time, gentlemen, please…’
 
We laugh and for one heartbeat forget to be afraid. Bravery
and cowardice are just two workings of the same fear 
moving us in different ways. The 8th East Surreys 
have been given footballs to kick and follow at Zero Hour;
 
it’s to persuade them from the trenches lest their nerve fail
as they advance on Montaubon. I’ve watched men 
hitch up their collars and trudge forward as if shrapnel 
and lead were no worse than a shower of winter rain.
 
This afternoon a few of us went swimming in the mill dam
behind Camp. Just for a while to have no weight, to go drifting
clear of thought and world, was utter bliss. A skylark climbed 
high over the torn fields on its impossible thread of song:
 
“like an unbodied joy.” I don’t know why, but it reminded
me of the day we took over from the French along the Somme; 
it was so tranquil, so picturesque, the German trenchworks crowded
with swathes of tiny, brilliant flowers none of us could name.
 
I believe if the dead come back at all they’ll come back green
to grow from the broken earth and drink the gathered water
and all the things they suffered will mean no more to them
than the setting-in of the ordinary dark, or a change of weather.
 

A new poem by John Glenday, commissioned by the Poetry Society with the Fleming Collection, in response to the painting The Eve of the Battle of the Somme, by Sir Herbert James Gunn. 

Poetry Society Events

20
Sep
Poetry Surgery, Derby *1 place left*
24
Sep
Stanza Bonanza: Tonbridge v Norwich
27
Sep
Psychoanalytic Poetry Day 2014
2
Oct
The Pity
8
Oct
National Poetry Competition Winners E...

Events Calendar>


First World War Centenary

The Pity
The Poetry Society's programme of events, resources and collaborations marking the centenary of the First World War


Cafe exhibition

'Digressions', 1 Sep - 4 Oct: Philippa Troutman's prints and mixed media works exploring Sterne's Tristram Shandy, in collaboration with Ian Duhig


Canal Laureate News

Visit the Waterlines website

Four canal-themed filmpoems by poets Jo Bell, Liz Berry, Ian Duhig and Ian McMillan, produced by Alastair Cook and in partnership with The Canal & River Trust

       

... latest poetry news ...

US National Book Award longlist announced

NEXT GENERATION of poets announced by Poetry Book Society: Tara Bergin, Emily Berry, Sean Borodale, Adam Foulds, Annie Freud, Alan Gillis, Rebecca Goss, Jen Hadfield, Emma Jones, Luke Kennard, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Hannah Lowe, Kei Miller, Helen Mort, Daljit Nagra, Heather Phillipson, Kate Tempest, Mark Waldron, Sam Willetts, Jane Yeh

Young Poet Laureate for London shortlist includes PS Members Clare Mulley and Ella Frears, SLAMbassador Aisling Fahey, plus Laurie Bolger, Rachel Long, and Deborah Stevenson

PS Members Anne Stewart & Dorothy Yamamoto 1st and 2nd in Poetry on the Lake open category. Virginia Astley wins sonnet category

Winifred Dawson obituary - Librarian who inspired five of Larkin's poems

Desmond O'Grady, 'a great citizen of world poetry', dies

Robert Hass wins $100k lifetime achievement award

Wasafiri poetry shortlist includes PS members, Ann Kaiser, Mark Fiddes, and Pnina Shinebourne

William Bedford wins The London Magazine's Poetry Competition

William Bedford wins Roundel Poetry Competition. PS member Geraldine Paine 2nd, John Arnold 3rd

New Seamus Heaney anthology includes unseen poem In Time, written for his granddaughter

Simin Behbahani, 'Iran's most famous poet', has died at the age of 87

Niall Campbell wins £20k Edwin Morgan prize

It's 1.2.3 for PS members Maria Jastrzᶒbska, Gill Learner & Elsa Fischer in Grey Hen Poetry Prize

Second Light Poetry Comp: Kate Foley (1st, long poem), Margaret Beston (1st, short poem), Pippa Little (2nd) & Ann Alexander (3rd)

Poet Roddy Lumsden and crime-writer Val McDermid win the Round Britain Quiz 

Clive James publishes 'farewell' poems

Siegfried Sassoon war diaries published online (BBC)

Polari First Book Prize longlist includes Dean Atta (Polari)

Former Foyle Young Poet Andrew Wynn Owen wins the Newdigate Prize (Magdalen College)

Kathy Miles wins the Welsh Poetry Competition (welshpoetry.co.uk)

Dylan Thomas Prize longlist includes Kei Miller and Owen Sheers (Swansea University)

PS Members Agnes Davis and Helen Ivory join Pascale Petit and Tiffany Atkinson on Medicine Unboxed Creative Prize shortlist (Centre for Medical Humanities)

PS Member Victor Tapner wins International Rubery Book Award, the first time it has been awarded for a poetry collection (RBA)

Irish Times Poetry Now shortlist: Nick Laird, Conor O’Callaghan, Tara Bergin, Billy Ramsell, Sinéad Morrissey. Shine/Strong Poetry shortlist for best 1st collection: Tara Bergin, Nicki Griffin, Paula Cunningham, Martin Dyar, Jim Maguire (Irish Times)

Paul Muldoon: one’s much better having as little time to write as possible (Spectator)

Success for PS members in the Cardiff International. Isabel Rogers 1st, Liane Strauss 2nd, K V Skene 3rd. PS members Angela Readman & Pat Winslow runners-up (Literature Wales)

Tony Mitton CLPE poetry award, UK's only prize for published children's poetry (Guardian)

Buxton Comp: PS Member Wendy Klein wins. Noel Connor 2nd, Heather Cook 3rd. PS Member Andy Hickmott highly commended (Buxton Festival)

Obituary for long-standing PS member Barry Cole "the kind of book to hang on to. It may well be of great value one day" (Guardian)

Jon Stone wins Poetry London competition. PS member Beverley Nadin 2nd; Stephen Sexton 3rd. PS members among the commendeds: Paul Stephenson, Geraldine Clarkson, and Bethany W Pope. Also commended is Tim Turnbull (Poetry London)

Pink Mist by Owen Sheers has been named Wales Book of the Year (WBOTY)

PS Member Chrys Salt awarded MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for services to the arts (Guardian)

Maura Dooley to be poet-in-residence at Jane Austen's House Museum in Hampshire (BBC)

Edwin Morgan Poetry Award shortlist:  Claire Askew, Niall Campbell, Tom Chivers, Harry Giles, Stewart Sanderson, Molly Vogel (Edwin Morgan Award)

Success for PS Members in Frogmore Prize. Lesley Saunders wins, Mark Fiddes 2nd runner-up, Pat Borthwick, Martin Malone, Helen Overell on shortlist (Frogmore Press) 

Cholmondely Awards for W.N. Herbert, Jeremy Hooker, John James, Glynn Maxwell and Denise Riley (Society of Authors)

Eric Gregory Awards for Sophie Collins, Emily Hasler, Martha Sprackland, Chloe Stopa-Hunt and David Tait (Society of Authors)

Natacha Bryan wins Poetry School / Pighog pamphlet prize (Poetry School)

Aldeburgh Eight announced: Edward Doegar, Joanna Guthrie, Matthew Howard, Miriam Nash, Mary Noonan, Richard Osmond, Paul Stephenson, & Rebecca Watts (Poetry Trust)

Norman Willis, former TUC Leader and Poetry Society Vice-President, has died (Guardian)

Oz publisher Felix Dennis has died (BBC)

Rob Auton will be this year's Glastonbury Festival Poet-in-Residence

PS member success in Larkin Society Prize. Rob Miles wins, Claudia Daventry 2nd. Sue Lozynsky wins East Riding Prize. Mark Fiddes & Pippa Little commended (Larkin Society)

Northern Writers Awards: winners include PS members Andrew McMillan, Kim Moore (former Geoffrey Dearmer winner), Polly Atkin & former Foyler Phoebe Power. Former Foyler Jasmine Simms wins Young Writers Prize, with Foyler Ila Colley highly commended (Northern Writers)

Charles Wright, new US Poet Laureate: Poetry’s not on a respirator... It’s breathing fine. I have a feeling, though, that there isn’t enough ambition (Washington Post)

Pulitzer Prize winner Charles Wright named as America's new Poet Laureate (New York Times)

Poetry Society Youth member Dominic Hand wins Christopher Tower Poetry Prize competition (Tower Prize)

Martin Newell: It's true that most poets don't get paid but why should they? (Express)

Interview with Paul Muldoon, soon to take up post of distinguished Professor of English and Creative Writing at Lancaster Uni (T.H.E.)

Anne Carson, Brenda Hillman win the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize (National Post)

Adam Horovitz, Adam O'Riordan & Clare Pollard to judge Manchester Poetry Prize (MMU)

Maya Angelou's funeral service to be live-streamed (Guardian)

George Szirtes: Paxman doesn't see that poetry is felt, not fathomed (Guardian)

Saboteur Award winners announced inc inc PS Members Fiona Moore and Kirsten Irving, plus Jon Stone, Poems in Which, Bill Herbert, Steve Nash... (Saboteur)

Forward Prize shortlists announced: Bryce, Burnside, Glück, Kei Miller, Hugo Williams, Liz Berry, Fiona Benson, Niall Campbell, Beatrice Garland, Kevin Powers, Vidyan Ravinthirian, Tim Nolan, Denise Riley, Stephen Santus, Jack Underwood, Jeffrey Wainwright (Forward)

Jeremy Paxman says poets must start engaging with ordinary people (Guardian)

One of the greatest literary voices, Maya Angelou, has died at the age of 86 (BBC)

Gerard Benson tribute from Judith Chernaik and Michael Rosen (Guardian)

Andrew Motion relaunches Poetry Archive 'an iTunes-style website for poetry' (Telegraph)

Former Foyle Young Poet Amy Blakemore wins £1400 Melita Hume Poetry Prize (Eyewear)

New Indian PM, Narendra Modi, is also a published poet (conversation.com)

Liyou Libsekal wins Brunel University African Poetry Prize (africanpoetryprize.org)

'Technical panache with a restless imagination' John Hartley Williams remembered (Guardian)

Poetry Book Society calling for submissions to Next Generation of poets (PBS)

PS Member Owen Sheers on Wales Poetry Book of the Year shortlist along with Jemma L King and Mike Jenkins (BBC)

Nathaniel Mackey wins $100,000 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize (Washington Post)

Spoken word artist Tris Vonna-Michell on Turner Prize shortlist (Independent)

Nina Cassian dies at the age of 89 (Guardian) 

Rosemary Tonks, author of Badly Chosen Lover, dies at the age of 85 (Guardian)

Tributes paid to Poem On The Underground's Gerard Benson, Bradford's Poet Laureate (Telegraph & Argus)

Poetry Society member Kim Moore is Digital Poet in Residence for the Poetry School (Poetry School)

Anniversary of Larkin's Whitsun Weddings to be marked by special train journey from Hull to London (Yorkshire Post)

PS Member news: Carole Bromley on Manchester Writing for Children Prize shortlist. Chrissie Gittins on longlist. Anthony Watts, Jane Aldous, Susan Peta Thompson & Shaun Traynor highly commended (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Tadeusz Różewicz: poet of a decimated generation (Guardian)

PS members Mona Arshi, Kiran Millwood Hargrave & David Van-Cauter included on Cafe Writers shortlist. PS members Martin Malone, Bethany Pope, Meryl Pugh, and Pat Winslow on longlist (inksweatandtears)

Poetry Society member NJ Hynes wins the inaugural Live Canon First Collection Prize. PS member Andrew George on the shortlist (Live Canon)

PS members Daisy Behagg, Joanne Clement, Victoria Kennefick on Melita Hume shortlist among others, inc former Foyle winner Amy Blakemore - for best unpublished poetry collection by poet under 35 (Eyewear)

Mervyn Morris is Jamaica's first Poet Laureate since independence in 1962 (Jamaica Observer)

PS Members on the Poetry School/Pighog shortlist: Amy McCauley, Julia Webb, and Mona Arshi (Pighog)

Vijay Seshadri wins the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry (Indian Express)

Hippocrates Award success for PS members. Valerie Laws, Ellen Storm & Jane Draycott short lists; commended are Polly Atkin, Sandy Goldbeck-Wood, Lydia Kennaway, Jane McLaughlin, Lesley Saunders, Carole Bromley, Cheryl Moskowitz, Marie Naughton, Karen Schofield, and Kate Venables; Youth members & Foyle winners Joseph Davison-Duddles, and Conor McKee on Young Poet Shortlist (Hippocrates)

Anne Carson and Rachael Boast on Griffin Prize shortlists (CBC news)

PS member Joan Michelson highly commended in Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition, won by John Foggin (camdenlumenpress)

John Cooper Clarke: Poetry is not something you have to retire from. There is no heavy lifting involved (Guardian)

New Heaney poems published (Guardian)

Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet winners inc PS members Holly Hopkins and Rebecca Farmer. PS Member wins Stuart Pickford wins Yorkshire Prize category (Poetry Business)

PS members on the Poetry School/Pighog longlist include: include Amy McCauley, Anna-May Laugher, Julia Webb, K V Skene, Kamina Banga, Mandy Haggith, Mona Arshi, Pat Winslow, Ramona Herdman, Sharon Black, Susannah Hart, PLUS Paul Adrian who won the NPC in 2010, and Rowena Knight Foyle winner (Poetry School)

Why are booksellers afraid of children's poetry? (Guardian)

Carol Ann Duffy leads protest outside Pentonville against prison book ban (BBC)

Forward Prize judges: Jeremy Paxman, Dannie Abse, Helen Mort, Vahni Capildeo, Cerys Matthews (Forward Arts Foundation)

Prominent British writers - including Carol Ann Duffy, Ruth Padel, David Harsent, campaign against ban on books for prisoners (Telegraph)

PS member Andy Hickmott 3rd in YorkMix Poetry Comp. Winner Kay Buckley. Sean Street 3rd (York Mix)

Dylan Thomas to appear on new set of Royal Mail stamps to commemorate 100 years since his birth (Daily Mail)

Andrew Soye wins Kent & Sussex Poetry Competition. Grevol Lindop and Jo Bell 2nd and 3rd. PS members Lindsay Fursland and Caroline Carver among the fourth equal (K & S)

JRR Tolkien translation of Beowulf to be published after 90-year wait (Guardian)

PS Member Harry Man is the winner of the Bridges of Struga award for his collection 'Lift' (Struga Poetry Evenings)

Is Wilfred Owen's poetry any good? (Spectator)

Original copies of magazine edited by Wilfred Owen found after decade-long search (BBC)

Jeremy Paxman: poetry does not help children understand the Great War (Mail)

Saudi book fair bans 'blasphemous' Mahmoud Darwish works after protest (Guardian)

Former factory worker Afaa Michael Weaver wins $100k Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award  (Time)

Brunel African Poetry Prize shortlist includes PS member Nick Makoha (africanpoetryprize.org)

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award opens for entries with Grace Nichols and Simon Barraclough as judges (The Poetry Society)

PS Member Rachel Mann writes new poems for stations of the cross unveiled at Manchester Cathedral (BBC)

PS member Ann Gray wins Ballymaloe Poetry Prize. Elena Tomorowitz 2nd, Jo Bell 3rd, PS member Amali Rodrigo highly commended (Moth Magazine)

Frieda Hughes on becoming a bereavement counsellor: I believe in recycling, I don’t like to waste experiences (Independent)

Imtiaz Dharker, Andrew Motion, Jo Shapcott, and others paired with archives from St Paul's, British Library, Royal College of Surgeons, Tower Hamlets Archive, and Hackney Archives to create new work (Telegraph)

PS Member Peter Daniels shortlisted for Rossica Prize for translation of Russian literature (academia-rossica.org)

Kathleen Jamie: the trouble with addressing Scotland from London is that you have to shout very loud (NY Times)

Malika Booker & Roger Robinson on OCM Bocas Prize poetry longlist (bocaslitfest.com)

Baker Prize: PS members Ellen McAteer, Robert Arnold, Alan Gay highly commended. Juliet Antill wins (Skye Reading Room)

PS member Pam Job 2nd in Plough Prize poetry comp; John Foggins wins, Jen Campbell 3rd (Plough Prize)

Charlotte Runcie: Kristen Stewart may have been criticised for writing a bad poem but Wordsworth and Shakespeare got away with worse (Telegraph)

Lines from Shelley's Ozymandias used as protest on building site (Oxford Mail)

Slam Poet Byron Vincent: corralling the poorest people perpetuates criminality (Guardian)

Natasha Trethewey: the language of a poem slows us down, allows us to reach not only the intellect but also the heart. Which then allows us to hear difficult things about others and ourselves (Newsadvance.com)

Michael Baldwin, co-founder of Arvon, obituary (Guardian)

Iain Banks's final poetry collection to be published in 2015 (Guardian)

Danuta Kean: can it ever be right for a professional writer to write for nothing? (ALCS)

London's Young Poet Laureate Warsan Shire writes new poem against female genital mutilation (Guardian)

Unpublished W H Davies poem discovered after more than a century (Sevenoaks Chronicle) 

Kristen Stewart: Twilight star writes "worst poem of all time" for Marie Claire (Independent)

Sebastian Barker, former Chair of the Poetry Society, obituary (Guardian)

Former US Poet Laureate and Pulitzer prize winner Maxine Kumin dies at 88 (Sun Times)

Red Doc by Anne Carson on Folio lit award shortlist (BBC)

Iranian poet and activist Hashem Shaabani executed (Poetry Foundation)

Poetry Society Member Joan McGavin is Hampshire's new Poet Laureate (BBC)

Tamar Yoseloff on being inspired by Martin Creed (Southbank Centre)

PS members 1st, 2nd and 3rd in Cafe Writers Competition: Judy Brown, Paul Stephenson, Lucy Maxwell Scott. Success too for PS members Josh Ekroy, Wendy Klein, Valerie Morton (Cafe Writers)

Billy Collins sells his archive to the University of Texas (New York Times)

Success for PS members in South Bank Poetry Competition. Paul Stephenson wins; Sarah Gibbons, Robert Peake, and Ellen Cranitch 2nd, 3rd, and 5th respectively. Ian McEwen, Gillie Robic, and Kathy Pimlott commended (Katherine Lockton blog)

Success for PS Members in Rialto Poetry Competition. Colin Hughes wins, Paul Bavister, Alison McNulty, Caroline Squire, and Pat Winslow Highly Commended (Rialto)

Sappho: two previously unknown poems indubitably hers, says scholar (Guardian)

Banjo Paterson: is he still the bard of the bush? (Guardian)

Jo Bell wins £3k Charles Causley Prize. PS Member Dorothy Coventon 2nd; success also for PS members Ama Bolton (highly commended), Victor Tapner, Judith Taylor, Gina Wilson, Mark Fiddes, Penelope Shuttle, James Greene, Elizabeth Burns, Judy Brown, Sharon Black, Heber-Percy, Kirsten Irving, Lesley Saunders, Ann Pilling (Charles Causley news blog)

Robot composes Shakespearean sonnet (Daily Mail)

David Hockney: the poets that make me paint (Guardian)

Salena Godden: passion and hard work are the keys to writing (London Evening Standard)

PS members Ian McEwen, Andrew Rudd & Pnina Shinebourne among longlist for Venture Pamphlet Award (Venture Poetry)

Success for PS members Mark Fiddes, Ian McEwen, Victoria Kennefick, & Usha Kishore in Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Comp (Munster Lit Centre)

Former US Poet Laureate Kay Ryan recovering from bike crash (Marin News)

Poet Dan O'Brien discusses real life hauntings on the eve of the opening of his new play (Metro)

Morag Morris obit. Bletchley Park codebreaker who taught poetry to emerging actors, and support of Wilfred Owen Association (Guardian)

Poetry Society President Roger McGough to chair award for poetry books written for children (CLPE)

Argentine poet Juan Gelman, fierce critic of the 'dirty war', dies aged 83 (Guardian)

Natasha Trethewey, US Laureate: Despair about the place of poetry in American culture is nothing new (Washington Post)

Liu Xia, wife of imprisoned Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, speaks out through her poetry (BBC)

TS Eliot poetry prize goes to Sinéad Morrissey's Parallax (Guardian) 

Michel Pleau, Canada's new poet laureate: poetry belongs to everyone (Globe and Mail)

Simon Curtis, former editor of The Interpreter's House, obituary (Guardian)

Jenny Swann, Candlestick Press: ...two times in life when poetry is particularly important: in love and in loss (Guardian)

Helen Mort: Poetry is like trying on a hat (Telegraph)

Poet and activist Amiri Baraka dies, aged 79 (BBC)

Michael Symmons Roberts wins the Costa Poetry Award (BBC)

For archive news click here