Celebrating poetry at Penguin Random House

 

We’re in the middle of a poetry revival. With over a million books sold in 2016, poetry is now considered amongst the most exciting growth areas in publishing, helped along by the publication of new works such as Alice Oswald's award-winning Falling Awake and Adam O'Riordan's dazzling A Herring Famine.

On National Poetry Day, we're sharing some of the ways Penguin Random House is championing poetry in 2017.

Celebrating award-winning poets

    

‘…the chief of police

facedown in a pool of Coca-Cola.

A palm-sized photo of his father soaking

beside his left ear.’ 

Recently awarded the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection, Ocean Vuong is one to watch. An extraordinary debut from the young Vietnamese American, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is steeped in war and cultural upheaval, dealing with the most profound subjects - love and loss, conflict, grief, memory and desire.

Andrew Marr, head of the judging panel that awarded the Felix Dennis Prize, described Vuong as a ‘truly remarkable new voice’. He went on to say: ‘This exciting poet navigates different terrains, from personal traumas to history and mythology, with great skill and imagination. Formally daring, and rich in images, Night Sky with Exit Wounds is an incredibly accomplished collection by an extraordinary talent.’

Championing breakthrough talent

 

Our editors are signing new and exciting talents like Adam O’Riordan, Kayo Chingonyi, Sarah Howe and Patricia Lockwood. One of these is Yrsa Daley-Ward, whose breakthrough poetry collection bone strips down her reflections on the heart, life, the inner self, coming of age, faith and loss to their essence. For a chance to win a copy of bone, enter our Twitter giveaway.

'You will come away bruised.

You will come away bruised

But this will give you poetry.'

Spoken word events

    

'For all I know death

is like watching a landscape dissolve

through the windows of an overheating

coach, bound for the nearest airport.'

In May, Vintage poets Ocean Vuong and Kayo Chingonyi performed their work at an event at Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road. In the new year, Penguin Random House employees were lucky enough to get an exclusive preview of Chingonyi's work at Penguin Random House Presents 2017, hosted at London’s iconic Barbican Centre. In celebration of National Poetry Day, we have released the video of Kayo performing 'Kumukanda' and 'Fisherman's Song', taken from his collection Kumukanda, at the event.

Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, Chingonyi's poetry is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.

Publishing new collections...

 

Today is publication day for William Sieghart's The Poetry Pharmacy. Matching 55 poems to William’s charming, insightful and relatable descriptions of the conditions they address, this book gathers the prescriptions that he has found himself making most frequently, and with the most reliable success. Whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego, theres is something here to ease your pain. Why not take his quiz to find out your poetry prescription?

In The Zoo of the New, published in March, poets Don Paterson and Nick Laird have cast a fresh eye over more than five centuries of verse. Stretching as far back as Sappho and as far-forward as the recent award-winning work of Denise Riley, this collection teems with old favourites and surprising discoveries. 

... and bringing back old ones.

 

First launched in the 1960s, Penguin Random House made the decision to relaunch the iconic Penguin Modern Poets series in summer last year.  

'There’s a strong case for our finding ourselves right now in a golden age for poetry. Between creative writing programmes, an abundance of new publications, the ever-growing popularity of spoken word and performance poetry – think of Kate Tempest, or Warsan Shire – and a new generation made unprecedentedly available to one another across national boundaries by the internet, exciting poetry … is being written on a staggering scale,' said Donald Futers, Commissioning Editor at Penguin Press.

'The time is ripe for this revival of the Penguin Modern Poets: affordable, desirable, high-quality introductions to the best of contemporary poetry, both familiar and unfamiliar. Readers only need a hand extended to them, and an opened door – and the trusted Penguin brand places us in an ideal position to offer both.’

Tonight, two generations of Penguin Modern Poets will be brought together for Jill Abrams presents Stablemates: A Poetry Salon with Roger McGough, Malika Booker and Kathryn Maris from Penguin Modern Poets. The event is taking place from 6.30pm at Foyles, Charing Cross Road, and tickets can be bought here.

Digital Curation

Have we got you thinking about all the poetry you could try? Find your next poet with our rich collection of reading lists. Click here for contemporary poetry, and here for the classics. Happy reading!