Jeremy Corbyn and Len McCluskey to edit poetry anthology
A poetry collection that has been edited by two leftwing political stalwarts, former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and Len McCluskey, former leader of the Unite union, will be published in November. Poetry for the Many will feature the favourite poems of the pair, along with their commentary. Jeremy Corbyn said that the book “grew out of regular conversations Len and I hold about poetry”.
Their choices range from Shakespeare and Juana Inés de la Cruz, William Blake and Emily Dickinson, to Bertolt Brecht, Stevie Smith and Maya Angelou. The anthology will also include appreciations of poems selected by guest contributors, including Russell Brand, Maxine Peake, Michael Rosen, Julie Hesmondhalgh, and Ken Loach.
The New York-based independent OR Books said that Corbyn and McCluskey “share a passionate belief in a fairer, more equal Britain, encapsulated in a Labour’ slogan ‘For the Many Not the Few’”. That slogan has links to poetry, inspired by Percy Bysshe Shelley’s ‘The Masque of Anarchy’.
“There is a poet in all of us and nobody should ever be afraid of sharing their poetry,” Corbyn said.
Several years ago, during his successful bid to win the Labour leadership, he revealed that he had been writing poetry on the train while campaigning. Corbyn, who said he also is an abstract painter, made the remarks when launching his plans to reverse government cuts in arts funding.
“I do write quite a bit of poetry myself,” he said, although the MP for Islington North confirmed that he would not be publishing any of his works. In a speech in Dalston, north-east London, Corbyn said that he wanted Labour to promote art for all, and that there was a novel, poem and painting in everyone.
Corbyn currently sits in the House of Commons as an independent, having had the Labour whip suspended in October 2020. He resigned as Labour leader after the party’s resounding defeat in the 2019 general election.