Poetry: as a Detroit-based artist once said, ‘it’s just there in the air.’ It’s certainly been in the news lately – the University of Oxford will shortly receive a new Professor of Poetry in the form of one Simon Armitage; Carol Ann Duffy’s Everyman is coating the south bank of the Thames in unidentified white powder; and Lemn Sissay, one of Manchester’s best-loved garret-dwellers (along with Duffy, Glaswegian by birth, Mancunian if Lancashire had a vote) has just been elected Chancellor of the University of Manchester. To wit, congratulations, Mr Sissay. I’ve studied and enjoyed your poems, especially the one at Hardy’s Well, many times.
So with the north of England putting up such a verse-rich performance and the south so stanza-poor in this one-sided write-up, let’s take up a young poet whose literary epicentre is London, and who is quick-footed and contemporary in telling his story of the London streets. It’s George Mpanga, here George the Poet, and earlier this year we published his first collection of poetry, Search Party. Whether writing aphoristically as in the five-line Monsters, or when taking on longer forms that – lyrically – span the distance from Uganda to Harlesden, George fuses a fresh, society-focused viewpoint with the pointed thrust of spoken word performance.
We and the digital department at Penguin Random House collaborated with George on an audio-enhanced edition – watch the following video to find out more about how it works.