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November 14 , 2009

We British: The Poetry of a People


More than just an anthology, WE BRITISH is a history of Britain told through its poetry. Written by Britain’s most celebrated political commentator for World Poetry Day. This is the story of Britain told from inside. Hundreds of thousands of Britons over many centuries have left traces of what it was like to be them – letters, drawings, text messages, emails and social network exhibitionism. But unlike texts, emails or television, poetry allows people from distant times to talk directly to us, with nobody else getting in the way: a mediaeval ploughman, a Tudor drunk or a jilted Georgian woman can look us in the eyes. What follows, then, is not a history of Britain in verse, but an epic story of what it was to be “British” – which means Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Northumbrian, Mercian as well as English. Combining some of the greatest of our poetry, including poems far too little-known, with explanations and brief historical essays, WE BRITISH amounts to a surprising, uplifting journey towards a new way of thinking about who we have been and who we are.

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