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Homer Wasn't 'a Person': Historian

Iliad , Odyssey were works of a culture, not a man: Adam Nicolson

(Newser) - When we think of The Iliad and The Odyssey, we shouldn't give credit to a single man, says a historian: "It's a mistake to think of Homer as a person," historian Adam Nicolson tells National Geographic . "Homer is an 'it.' A tradition. An...

Chinese Cops Bust Poet Over Umbrella

Item confiscated from Wang Zang's home amid Hong Kong protests

(Newser) - A Chinese poet could reportedly face three years in prison, and it's all because of an umbrella. Wang Zang posted a picture of himself online holding an umbrella—and, it should be noted, sporting a one-fingered salute—after said rain shields, also used to block tear gas, became a...

20 Never-Seen Poems of Pablo Neruda Discovered

They were found in boxes, said to be of 'extraordinary quality'

(Newser) - Someone combing through old boxes belonging to Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda made an amazing discovery: 20 unpublished poems from his prime years of productivity, reports the Guardian . His publisher says they are of "extraordinary quality," and one academic says they are full of "the imaginative power, the...

Robert Frost's Letters Might Salvage His Image

New volume could undo the damage of scathing biography

(Newser) - This month, Harvard will publish the first in a four-volume set of letters written by Robert Frost that might finally undo what Frost scholars call the "monster myth," reports the New York Times . That "myth" is largely the result of a decades-old biography by Lawrance Thompson that...

Teacher Stabs Friend in Poetry vs. Prose Dispute

Russian men were drunk at the time, say police

(Newser) - A Russian man has been arrested for allegedly stabbing and killing his friend, because that friend preferred prose to poetry, police revealed today. You will be shocked to learn that both men were drunk. The alleged killer, a 53-year-old former teacher, had been lodging in the 67-year-old victim's home...

Lincoln Letter Writer Finally IDed

Researcher matches writing to newspaper editor Andrew Johnston

(Newser) - It's a mystery more than a century in the making, but the author of a long-lost letter to Abraham Lincoln, split into four pieces and found in a mouse's nest within the walls of the Lincoln Home in 1987, may finally be revealed. More than 165 years after...

Emily Dickinson’s 'Envelope Poems' Revealed

Envelope poems showcase another side of poet's artistry

(Newser) - Emily Dickinson's use of small, often oddly-shaped bits of paper torn from 19th-century envelopes—on which she wrote sentences, stanzas, and entire rough poems in pencil—have been published, as a group, for the first time. Historian Marta Werner first came across one in the 1990s. Known as the...

Poet Pablo Neruda Wasn't Poisoned: Tests

But family says Chilean case isn't closed

(Newser) - The four-decade mystery of whether Chilean Nobel Prize-winning poet Pablo Neruda was poisoned was seemingly cleared up today, when forensic test results showed no chemical agents in his bones. But his family and driver were not satisfied and said they'll request more tests. Neruda died under suspicious circumstances in...

Seamus Heaney, Nobelist Poet, Dead at 74

Called 'most significant Irish poet of his generation'

(Newser) - Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, has died at age 74 following a recent illness. A former teacher who lived in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Heaney was widely considered the best Irish poet since WB Yeats, the BBC notes; the Irish Times calls him...

New York Times Turns Its Stories Into Haikus

Happy National Poetry Month!

(Newser) - The New York Times is celebrating National Poetry Month with a quirky new Tumblr: Times Haiku . It's exactly what it sounds like: haiku generated from stories posted to the NYT homepage. But, interestingly, it's all automated. So a computer algorithm came up with gems like these:
  • "His

Tom Hanks Performs Slam Poem About ... Full House

On 'Late Night With Jimmy Fallon'

(Newser) - Just when you thought F-bomb-dropping Tom Hanks could not possibly get any cooler, he goes on Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and performs a slam poem about … a 1990s sitcom. "Full House, house full of men. Danny, Jesse, Joey, father, uncle, friend," intoned a very serious Hanks...

2nd Known Photo of Emily Dickinson Surfaces

1859 daguerreotype believed to show the poet with her widowed friend

(Newser) - If you're a lover of poetry, history, and mystery, listen up: Amherst College believes a photo that first surfaced in 2007 is indeed one of Emily Dickinson—making it just the second known image of the poet in existence, reports the Guardian . The previously verified photo is one of...

Young Obama Gets Good Grades on TS Eliot

Scholars think his long-ago analysis was on the mark: Politico

(Newser) - The Vanity Fair excerpt of a Barack Obama biography includes a young Obama musing about TS Eliot. Politico collects reactions of the president as poetry critic, not pretentious boyfriend , and he gets pretty good grades:
  • Former poet laureate Donald Hall: “If we talked about The Waste Land together when

Feminist Poet Adrienne Rich Dead at 82

Ground-breaking writer fought for women's rights with words

(Newser) - As a woman, a lesbian, and a Jew, Adrienne Rich felt triply excluded by society, and she used her long and influential career as a poet to fight for change. Rich, who has died from complications linked to rheumatoid arthritis at the age of 82, was one of America's...

MTV Pretends Poetry Night Was Ron Paul Event

Organizers outraged over weird article

(Newser) - It sounds like the perfect quirky political story: Ron Paul supporters gather in a New Hampshire bar ahead of the primaries for a slam poetry reading. It didn't happen or anything, but you wouldn't know it if you read this MTV piece about a reading that took place...

Poet Ditches Famed Contest Over Hedge Fund Backing

Poetry should question, not endorse, such firms: Alice Oswald

(Newser) - A highly regarded British poet is dropping out of a prestigious poetry contest because a hedge fund management firm is a major sponsor. Alice Oswald was considered a prime contender for the $22,000 TS Eliot Prize for her new collection, Memorial, a retelling of the Iliad. She won the...

Nobel Prize for Literature Goes to Tomas Transtromer

Swedish poet probes mysteries of the human mind

(Newser) - Better luck next year, Bob Dylan . Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer was today awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for literature. The AP calls the 80-year-old a "perennial favorite" to win, and notes that Swedish journalists regularly camp outside his apartment in Stockholm on the big day in anticipation of victory....

Meet America's New Poet Laureate

Philip Levine named to one-year post

(Newser) - Philip Levine has already won nearly every major prize for his poetry, including two Guggenheims and a Pulitzer, and now he's America's newest poet laureate. The Library of Congress named him to the one-year position today; he succeeds WS Merwin. Growing up, Levine hated "prissy" poetry, which...

Sarah Palin's Emails Make for Marvelous Poetry

Michael Solomon arranges them into verse, with delightful results

(Newser) - File under: Why didn't I think of this first? Editor-slash-humorist Michael Solomon has pored over Sarah Palin's email trove searching not for salacious details but for inspired verse. What he's come up with is a collection of 50 poems written by the former governor herself. And Solomon...

Stewart Slams Fox Over Rapper Brouhaha ... Via Rap

No cops, Bushes hurt as Common performs at poetry night

(Newser) - Rapper Common was among several artists who performed at a poetry event at the White House last night—and he didn't shoot any cops. The rapper, whose presence at the event infuriated conservative pundits who seized upon some of his controversial lyrics, gently recited verses about love and the...

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