Category Archives: News
A new technique is revealing traces of lost languages that have been erased from ancient parchments.
For centuries they have gathered dust on the shelves of a library marooned in a rocky patch of Egyptian desert, their secrets lost in time. But now a collection of enigmatic manuscripts, carefully stored behind the walls of a 1,500-year-old monastery on the Sinai Peninsula, are giving up their treasures.
The library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery is the oldest continually operating library in the world. Among its thousands of ancient parchments are at least 160 palimpsests—manuscripts that bear faint scratches and flecks of ink beneath more recent writing. These illegible marks are the only clues to words that were scraped away by the monastery’s monks between the 8th and 12th centuries to reuse the parchments. Some were written in long-lost languages that have almost entirely vanished from the historical record.
But now these erased passages are reemerging from the past. In an unlikely collaboration between an Orthodox wing of the Christian faith and cutting-edge science, a small group of international researchers are using specialized imaging techniques that photograph the parchments with different colors of light from multiple angles. This technology allows the researchers to read the original texts for the first time since they were wiped away, revealing lost ancient poems and early religious texts and doubling the known vocabulary of languages that have not been used for more than 1,000 years.
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The long days of summer offer an opportunity to reflect. We selected six poems by contemporary American poets and asked six photographers to let the poems inspire them.
By Douglas Dunn
All the dead Imperia…They have gone
Taking their atlases and grand pianos.
They could not leave geography alone.
They conquered with the thistle and the rose.
To our forefathers it was right to raise
Their pretty flag at every foreign dawn
Then lower it at sunset in a haze
Of bugle-brass. They interfered with place,
Time, people, lives and so to bed. They died
When it died. It had died before. It died
Before they did. They did not know it. Race,
Power, Trade, Fleet, a hundred regiments,
Postponed that final reckoning with pride,
Which was expensive. Counting up the cost
We plunder morals from the power they lost.
They ruined us. They conquered continents.
We filled their uniforms. We cruised the seas,
We worked their mines and made their histories.
You work, we rule, they said. We worked; they ruled.
They fooled the tenements. All men were fooled.
It still persists. It will be so, always.
Listen. An out-of-work apprentice plays
God Save the Queen on an Edwardian flute.
He is, but does not know it, destitute.
Poetry lovers, it’s time to register for our summer 2017 session (July 27). Registration is free, of course. You may register in person, via telephone (604-713-1800) or Register online.
Please take the time to do this, as our free room at the Roundhouse Community Centre depends upon their awareness that we are an active group. So far, only two of our members have registered for the summer session.
By WILLIAM GRIMESHeathcote Williams, a poet, playwright, actor, lyricist, painter, sculptor, magician and relentless scourge of the British establishment for half a century, died on Saturday in Oxford. He was 75.
His daughter Lily Williams said the cause was lung disease.
Mr. Williams, a radical in the tradition of Blake and Shelley, vented his outrage at royal privilege, private property, environmental degradation and a host of other targets, using every artistic means available.
He took dead aim at enforced conformity, the stupefying effects of television and the malign intentions of mental health professionals in plays like “AC/DC.”
Falling Awake, already a much acclaimed collection, was cheered by 1,000-strong crowd at readings connected with the Canadian award
Alice Oswald has won one of the world’s richest poetry prizes with her latest collection, Falling Awake.
This dreamlike vision of the West Country carried off the 2017 International Griffin poetry prize, worth C$65,000 (£37,725). The same sum was also presented to the Vancouver poet Jordan Abel, who took home the Canadian prize with his long poem about cultural appropriation and racism, Injun.
Oswald said she was delighted to be part of the “atmosphere of real warmth and carnival” surrounding the award from the Griffin trust, whose work in schools she “deeply admired”.
“I’ve spent the last week exploring Canada and being looked after by its people and amazed by its forests – the international aspect of this prize is what matters to me,” she said. “Most of my favourite poets (both dead and alive) have never won prizes. However, in the spirit of carnival, it’s important for all people to wear a crown and ride on a float for a day – as long as they don’t turn up for work in it.”
Prize judge George Szirtes said that after reading through 617 submissions it was “not too hard a choice” to select Oswald’s collection.
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The poet has extended the ballad to an epic scale by coupling it with the lyric, the sonnet, writes Gabriel Fitzmaurice..
Brendan Kennelly was born in Ballylongford, Co Kerry, on April 17th, 1936, the son of Tim Kennelly, publican and garage proprietor, and his wife Bridie Ahern, a nurse. Ballylongford is a small village like the other villages in the hinterland of Listowel in North Kerry.
To understand Kennelly and his poetry, you have to come to terms with the traditional culture of the area which Kennelly has translated into poetry, both intimate and epic. It’s flat land touching the River Shannon and the Atlantic. For the most part pasture land, it was, in Kennelly’s youth, mainly a farming community. The farmers, small farmers mostly, were generally not well off. But they loved to sing. At night they’d go to the local pub on bicycles or on foot (this was before the general availability of the car), drink “small ones” (whiskies) and pints of Guinness, and swap stories, news, songs and “recitations”.
Memory, in particular the poet’s memory, gathers these moments together. Kennelly’s was, and remains, a public house – Brendan heard these songs, stories and recitations regularly in the pub – not just imported songs (from the gramophone and radio – there was as yet no television) but local ballads too.