Samaris create new Iceland saga
"There are two ways in which place is known and cherished," Seamus Heaney has written. "One is lived, illiterate and unconscious, the other learned, literate and conscious.
It's that time of year again when anyone interested in poetry, the writers and readers, publishers and critics, is gripped by one overwhelming question - does anyone really give a toss about who wins this year's Forward Prize?
For 1,000 years the river Danube represented the border between Hapsburg Catholicism, Orthodox Russia and Ottoman Islam. During the cold war it was part of the front-line between East and West. Today it represents the vivid clash of the traditional and the modern.
Basil Bunting was a major 20th-century poet, a crucial link between European and US modernism and the north-east of England.
Generational anthologies have always defined themselves as the bearers of the "new."
The title poem of George Szirtes's new collection The Burning Of The Books (Bloodaxe, Â£8.95) refers to the 1933 nazi book burnings and all those places "where barbarians gather with their torches/And rank upon rank of shelves, tongues and footnotes/Are burning as always, as is their nature, in the streets/Of the city that opens like a book and must itself always be burning."
Michael McCarthy was born on a farm in West Cork. At the heart of his new collection At the Races (Smith/Doorstop, Â£8.95) is a series of touching but unsentimental poems about growing up in rural Ireland, notably Our House, To School, Knitting, English Exam and Learning.
Hylda Sims's wonderful new book Reaching Peckham (Hearing Eye, Â£7 or Â£12 with accompanying CD) is set in a part of London where the young William Blake once saw a tree full of angels. The angels in this book, however, are a street gang whose low-level devilry eventually leads to serious tragedy.
According to recent research by the OU, more than half of primary school teachers cannot remember the names of more than two poets. Cue shock-horror from the world of poetry. What's the point of all those glitzy prizes and expensive PR campaigns if one in five primary school teachers don't know the names of any poets at all?