A Brief Guide to Romanticism. The objects of the Poet's thoughts are everywhere; though the eyes and senses of man are, it is true, his favorite guides, yet he will follow wheresoever he can find an atmosphere of sensation in which to move his wings. Poetry is the first and last of all knowledge—it is as immortal as the heart of man.
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That didn't bother me; lots of people visit my dressing room after performances. Me and the South African performers I was working with that night thought it rather funny that we had a royal groupie. She's a bit stiff but she's a nice old lady. Let me make it clear: I have nothing against her or the royal family. It is the institution of the monarchy that I loathe so very much, the monarchy that still refuses to apologise for sanctioning slavery. There is a part of me that hopes that after writing this article I shall never be considered as a Poet Laureate or an OBE sucker again.
Let this put an end to it. This may lose me some of my writing friends; some people may never want to work with me again, but the truth is I think OBEs compromise writers and poets, and laureates suddenly go soft - in the past I've even written a poem, Bought and Sold, saying that. There are many black writers who love OBEs, it makes them feel like they have made it. When it suits them, they embrace the struggle against the ruling class and the oppression they visit upon us, but then they join the oppressors' club.
They are so easily seduced into the great house of Babylon known as the palace.
For them, a wonderful time is meeting the Queen and bowing before her presence. I was shocked to see how many of my fellow writers jumped at the opportunity to go to Buckingham Palace when the Queen had her "meet the writers day" on July 9 , and I laughed at the pathetic excuses writers gave for going. I have even heard black writers who have collected OBEs saying that it is "symbolic of how far we have come". Oh yes, I say, we've struggled so hard just to get a minute with the Queen and we are so very grateful - not.
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I've never heard of a holder of the OBE openly criticising the monarchy. They are officially friends, and that's what this cool Britannia project is about. It gives OBEs to cool rock stars, successful businesswomen and blacks who would be militant in order to give the impression that it is inclusive. Then these rock stars, successful women, and ex-militants write to me with the OBE after their name as if I should be impressed.
I'm not. Quite the opposite - you've been had.
Brooklyn Poets | Poet Against Empire
Writers and artists who see themselves as working outside the establishment are constantly being accused of selling out as soon as they have any kind of success. I've been called a sell-out for selling too many books, for writing books for children, for performing at the Royal Albert Hall, for going on Desert Island Discs, and for appearing on the Parkinson show. But I want to reach as many people as possible without compromising the content of my work.
What continues to be my biggest deal with the establishment must be my work with the British Council, of which, ironically, the Queen is patron. I have no problem with this.
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It has never told me what to say, or what not to say. I have always been free to criticise the government and even the council itself. This is what being a poet is about. I kept thinking that only my sister could swim if we all fell.
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Once there was an Aylan Kurdi whose death shocked the world, but there are still many Aylan Kurdis. Nigeria-born Yomi Sode moved to London aged nine with his mother, in search of a better life. Deanna Rodger is from London. Both her parents are also British. A group of other authors, including Monica Ali, William Boyd and Marina Lewycka, are lining up to write a new crowdfunded anthology with the objective to counter the anti-refugee rhetoric in the media.
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