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Moniza Alvi

Duration:
15 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 16 January 2014

Taking Rilke's classic correspondence as inspiration, five leading poets write a personal letter to a young poet. Today, Pakistan-born Moniza Alvi.

The original Letters to a Young Poet is a compilation of letters by Rainer Maria Rilke, written between 1902 and 1908 to a 19-year-old officer cadet called Franz Kappus. Kappus was trying to choose between a literary career and entering the Austro-Hungarian army. Rilke's letters touch on poetry and criticism, but they range widely in subject matter from atheism and loneliness, to friendship and sexuality:

"If your everyday life seems to lack material, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; for there is no lack for him who creates and no poor, trivial place."

In their new letters, five poets imagine a young poet protégé to whom they want to pass on life experience and thoughts about the poetic art.

Our poets are: Michael Symmons Roberts, Vicki Feaver, Michael Longley, Moniza Alvi and Don Paterson.

About Moniza Alvi: Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hertfordshire. Her latest book are At the Time of Partition (Bloodaxe Books, 2013) which is shortlisted for the 2013 T S Eliot Prize. Other recent books include her book-length poem; Homesick for the Earth, her versions of the French poet Jules Supervielle (Bloodaxe Books, 2011); Europa (Bloodaxe Books, 2008); and Split World: Poems 1990-2005 (Bloodaxe Books, 2008), which includes poems from her five previous collections.

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