News That Stays News: The Twentieth Century in Poems (Faber Penguin audiobooks)

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9780141800714: News That Stays News: The Twentieth Century in Poems (Faber Penguin audiobooks)

Simon Rae's audiobook anthology presents the most economical and resonant appraisal of the twentieth century. Poets have responded to the relentless upheaval with alertness and sensitivity. With a contemporary poem chosen for each year of the century this collection gives a surprising report on the often violent impact of modern life.

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In News That Stays News the anthologist Simon Rae has chosen 100 poems to reflect the changing face of this century, selecting a poem for each year and allowing each poet only one entry. The collection is overwhelmingly but not exclusively British. At one end of the century, Thomas Hardy leans gloomily upon his coppice gate; at the other John Heath-Stubbs, in a fit of millenarian melancholia, sees the whole world ending. In between we read of a changing Britain and an unfolding social fabric in which, it has to be said, Rae's poets find more bitterness than joy. This is, of course, an artificial concept for an anthology, for some years of this century naturally inspired several poets to write--but only one can be chosen--while many poems here relate as much to a period as to any specific year.

The volume provides not only an excuse to meet again old friends such as John Masefield's Cargoes, James Elroy Flecker's Ballad of Canning Town and Henry Reed's Naming of Parts, but a chance to find some of the less familiar work of very familiar poets. It would be nice to think that those of us who were brought up with Wilfred Owen's poems of the First World War will read Alan Ross's Survivors, from the Second World War, to discover how little changed. Simon Rae acknowledges that he pencilled in different names for many of his dates. A number of readers may be sure that he rubbed out the wrong ones and will go to their other anthologies to prove it. --Kim Fletcher

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