by Ruth Padel, Poetry Fellow
The Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize was set up to commemorate a student who loved poetry. His father Richard is always one of the judges, and I was delighted to be invited to chair the four-judge team alongside my colleagues Elizabeth Eger and Alan Marshall. We had 152 entries and the theme was ‘Time’, a general enough title to be interpreted in many more than 152 ways.
Our individual shortlists of ten had few overlaps, but one of the joys of judging the prize is discussing poems with colleagues and learning from their different ways of reading and responding. ‘Reading Poetry’ is a first year course but learning new ways of reading poetry is a lifetime’s work for everybody, and the long list we eventually worked down to this year reflects the state of contemporary poetry: extraordinarily varied.
For the first time, we awarded six Commendations, in addition to the three winners, because we couldn’t bear to give the other poems up. We also awarded a joint Third Prize: the difference between these two poems reflects the whole spectrum of possibilities for poetry today.
Featured image © Michael Handrick.
Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize winners 2016
Joint Third Prize
Poem One, by Valeria Marcon Continue reading The Cosmo Davenport-Hines Poetry Prize: 2016 winners
by Dr Natasha Awais-Dean, Project and Communications Manager of ‘Cultural Exchange in a Time of Global Conflict: Colonials, Neutrals and Belligerents during the First World War’ (HERA)
Despite there being over 1 million South Asian soldiers fighting in the war alongside two million Africans as well as troops from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, there has traditionally been a rather narrow and Anglo-centric view of how the history of the First World War has been communicated within Britain. Yet, the true story is far more complex and wide-ranging than this suggests.
Over the last two years, there has been greater visibility of the South Asian contribution to the First World War but we still have a long way to go. Now that we have reached the midpoint of the centennial commemoration, how do we keep up the momentum while at the same time find a way, as Dr Santanu Das notes, to go ‘beyond simple recovery and commemoration’ and address the complexity of the history? How do we find creative ways of engaging with the South Asian contribution to draw in fresh generations?
What seems to have been driving this greater visibility of the South Asian war story in Britain is its relation to a broader British Asian identity today – can the contribution of the South Asian soldiers, who served alongside English Tommies, be used to achieve greater racial harmony? Indeed, could this be the key to healing the current racial and ethnic divides in our society (something that we are perhaps feeling now more than ever), but without sanitising any of the horrors of the war or ignoring the racial hierarchies and inequalities that marked the colonial war experience? The need for authenticity is paramount, to maintain integrity in dealing with this often messy history in both an ethical and, crucially, productive manner. Continue reading South Asians and the First World War: Reflections
by Dr Clare Whitehead, Research Assistant
First published in 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets are among the most accomplished and absorbing poems in the English language. They are also some of the most beloved and have enjoyed a vibrant afterlife, with continued readings, recitations, and reprints fortifying Shakespeare’s claim in Sonnet 60: “My verse shall stand”. These remarkable poems do not stand alone however, but rather, alongside the many works that they have inspired.
Continue reading ‘A new route discovered’: On Shakespeare’s Sonnets
St James’s Square in 1753
Coloured engraving by T Bowles
(Mayson Beaton Collection, English Heritage)
Continue reading The Political Day in Georgian London
By Dr Alvin Eng Hui Lim, department alumnus and postdoctoral fellow at the National University of Singapore.
I’m on a British Airways flight from Changi airport, Singapore to Heathrow, London. The cabin crew, a mix of ethnicities, leaves me alone after the initial smiles and courtesies with the inflight entertainment, only punctuating my viewing experience a couple of times to serve me microwaved food – mostly chicken, or vaguely tasting like it.
I’m at Heathrow. A Chinese custom officer chides me in impeccable English for not completing the landing card before I join the queue. I do as told, and my voice struggles to complete a sentence when another custom officer addresses me and stamps my passport.
“What are you here for? What are you studying?”
“PhD. Theatre. At King’s College London.”
Maybe it is my face and how I sound. An inner joke seems to flash across his face as it changes. I am free to go.
Continue reading London is my East: A Reflection on Travel
by Penny Newell, PhD student in the English Department
Unlike the categories of political economy, poetry will never be essential to a correct definition of capitalist society. In this sense, it will never need to exist – but it is exactly in this sense that it has something to contribute Danny Hayward, ‘Militant Poetics’
A political demo is nothing without people. But what is it without poems?
On a Saturday in March 2016, over 20,000 people marched through London in solidarity with refugees who are forced to flee from their homes. The event was the yearly Stand Up To Racism national march, with the continuing aim of speaking out against racism.
We stood gathered on the smoothed flagstones of Trafalgar Square, cold, fidgety, absorbing words that confirm the great injustices of the world, eating fig rolls and sipping tea… as is the way with these things.
I wondered if anyone else was remembering the times they’d stood here before: Anti-Austerity. SlutWalk. Pride. The passage through, on the way to hear Jeremy Corbyn’s speech, when my friend turned to me and said ‘I’ve got goosebumps…’ Continue reading People and Poems at Political Demos
by Fran Allfrey and Charlotte Rudman, PhD students in the Department of English and co-presenters and producers of Footnotes Radio Show, KCL Radio
We were always the talkers, the thinkers-out-loud, the ones just spilling out what came into our heads in seminars, to the disdain or amusement of our fellow undergraduates. But now as PhD students – teaching classes and attending research seminars – sometimes we restrain ourselves: worried that a half formed musing might be taken as our critical point of view; watching ourselves say ‘Is it this…? Or is it that…? Am I making any sense?’ and feeling unprofessional, that we’ve exposed ourselves as frauds.
But outside of the conventions of classroom or conference, we know that the most exciting moments come in conversations with ‘your people’. Your people can take many forms: maybe you’re in the same chronological discipline (medievalists), or perhaps your research concepts (Aristotelian philosophies across different times), or obsessive tracking of images, of poetics (of water, of sound) enter into dialogue irrespective of imagined boundaries in time or place. Continue reading footnotes, [alt+cmd+f] 1.a living encyclopedia of research
By Fran Allfrey, LAHP/AHRC-funded PhD student in the English Department
‘The traveller to Sutton Hoo must make two kinds of journey: one in reality and one in the imagination. The destination of the real journey is a small group of grassy mounds lying beside the River Deben in south-east England. The imaginative journey visits a world of warrior-kings, large open boats, jewelled weapons, ritual killing and the politics of independence’
Martin Carver, Sutton Hoo: Burial Ground of Kings?
The travel gods were against us. The trip to Sutton Hoo, Suffolk, usually takes about two hours from London. But on this day in March, our journey took over three hours and involved a ride to the end of the London Underground, a coach, two trains, and a twenty-minute trudge uphill.
Continue reading Buried Treasure (or not) at Sutton Hoo
By Sylvia Solakidi, student on the MA in Theatre and Performance
On November 30th 2015, performance projects developed by the students of Performance Lab – an MA module run in the English Department during the autumn term – were presented in the Anatomy Museum, Strand Campus. The module was taught by Dr Harriet Curtis as a workshop comprising performance-based activities, student-led practice and seminar discussions on, among other topics, aspects of intimacy in the work of influential performance artists that have attracted vivid scholarship during the last decade.
Continue reading Currents of Intimacy: Performance Lab
By Declan Ryan, Visiting Lecture in Poetry and Creative Writing
The idea for setting up the website which became wildcourt.co.uk was knocking around almost as soon as I came to teach at King’s in 2014.
I had previously run a reading series called Days of Roses out of which two anthologies and a supporting blog had developed. The hope was to bring Days of Roses in a new form into King’s, then develop it into a more international, wide-ranging magazine and, in time, imprint. Continue reading The Wild Court Poetry Magazine