6 Jan 2021: Poems to Live for 9: Reading by Michael Hulse and Special Guest Louis de Bernières

Wednesday 6th January 2021  9pm UK time: Poems to Live for: Session 9
Reading by Michael Hulse. Special Guest: Louis de Bernières
Chair: Donald Singer

Reading: Michael Hulse - Part 1
Reading: Louis de Bernières
Reading: Michael Hulse - Part 2
Q & A session with Michael Hulse and Louis de Bernières.

Click on the arrow below to watch a recording of the session


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Michael Hulse is a poet, translator and critic.

He has won numerous awards for his poetry, and has earned the praise of Gwyneth Lewis,Simon Armitage, C. K. Stead, the late Peter Porter and many others. His 2013 collection Half-Life was chosen as a Book of the Year in the Australian Book Review, where John Kinsella described it as “brilliant”, “devastatingly disturbing” and “technically perfect”. Reading tours have taken him to the US, Canada and Mexico, India, Australia, New Zealand, and many parts of Europe. He has been a judge of the Günter Grass Foundation’s Albatross Prize, a literary award similar to Britain’s Man Booker International, and, with J. M. Coetzee and Susanna Moore, served as an ambassador for Adelaide Writers’ Week. He co-founded the annual international Hippocrates Prize, now in its 12th year, for a poem on a medical subject, annual international symposia on poetry and medicine, and the current Poems to Live for webinar series. The annual symposia have been held twice in the USA (Harvard Medical School - 2017; Northwestern University and The Poetry Foundation, Chicago - 2018); and in the UK in London (Medical Society of London, Royal Society of Medicine and the Wellcome Trust building), at the University of Warwick, and at the Centre for Life in Newcastle in 2019.  In 2011 the Hippocrates initiative took the Times Higher Education Award for Excellence and Innovation in the Arts. 

Until his retirement in December 2020, Michael Hulse taught poetry and comparative literature at the University of Warwick. He was brought up in Stoke-on-Trent and studied German at the University of St Andrews. From 1977 he taught in Germany at the universities of Erlangen, Eichstätt and Cologne, and from 1986 until 2002 he worked on documentary and current affairs programmes for Deutsche Welle television in Cologne. In the same period he also worked in publishing, as translator and consultant for Taschen and as editor of two series for Könemann, before returning to England in 2002. 

Michael Hulse’s books of poetry include Knowing and Forgetting (1981), Propaganda (1985), Eating Strawberries in the Necropolis (1991), Mother of Battles (1991), Empires and Holy Lands (2002), The Secret History (2009) and Half-Life (2013). He has won the National Poetry Competition, is the only poet to have won the Bridport Poetry Prize twice, and received a Cholmondeley Award in 1991. He co-edited the best-selling Bloodaxe poetry anthology, The New Poetry (1993), ran Leviathan poetry press, and has edited the literary magazines Stand, Leviathan Quarterly and The Warwick Review. His best-selling anthology The Twentieth Century in Poetry (co-edited with Simon Rae, 2011) was described by The Guardian as “magnificent”. 

Michael has also translated more than sixty books from the German, including titles by Goethe, Rilke, Jakob Wassermann, Alfred Andersch, W. G. Sebald, and Nobel Laureates Elfriede Jelinek and Herta Müller. His translations have been shortlisted for every major translation award, including the PEN Translation Prize (US), the Aristeion Translation Prize and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize. 

In our Poems To Live For session, Michael read a selection of his poems of the past forty-five years. 


Novelist and poet Louis de Bernières was born in London in 1954

He joined the army at 18 but left after spending four months at Sandhurst. After graduating from the Victoria University of Manchester, he took a postgraduate certificate in Education at Leicester Polytechnic and obtained his MA at the University of London. Before writing full-time, he held many varied jobs including landscape gardener, motorcycle messenger and car mechanic. He also taught English in Colombia, an experience which determined the style and setting of his first three novels, The War of Don Emmanuel's Nether Parts (1990), Señor Vivo and the Coca Lord (1991) and The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman (1992), each of which was heavily influenced by South American literature, particularly 'magic realism'.

In 1993, he was selected as one of the 20 'Best of Young British Novelists 2' promotion in Granta magazine. His fourth novel, Captain Corelli's Mandolin, was published in the following year, winning the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best Book). It was also shortlisted for the Sunday Express Book of the Year. Set on the Greek island of Cephalonia during the Second World War, the novel tells the story of a love affair between the daughter of a local doctor and an Italian soldier. It has become a worldwide bestseller and has now been translated into over 30 languages. A film adaptation of the novel was released in 2001, and the novel has also been adapted for the stage. In 2001, Red Dog was published - a collection of stories inspired by a statue of a dog encountered on a trip to a writers' festival in Australia in 1998.

He wrote the introduction to The Book of Job, one in a series of books reprinted from the Bible and published individually by Canongate Press in 1998 and his play, Sunday Morning at the Centre of the World, set in South-West London, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 1999, and published in 2001. He is also a regular contributor of short stories to various newspapers and magazines. His novel Birds Without Wings (2004) was shortlisted for the 2004 Whitbread Novel Award and the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book). His novel A Partisan's Daughter (2008) was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Novel Award. In 2009, he published a collection of short stories, Notwithstanding: Stories from an English Village.

Louis de Bernieres has also written two collections of poetry A Walberswick Goodnight Story (2006) and Imagining Alexandria (2013), a homage to the Greek poet Constantinos Cavafis. 

His latest novel is The Autumn of the Acepublished by Harvill Secker in November 2020.


For future sessions, we welcome suggestions of poems (out of copyright and not your own) you would like read or to read yourself. Please email us as soon as possible with your suggestions. We can’t promise to use all readings or suggestions but we shall use as many as possible.

It must not be your own AND must be out of copyright. 

For example for literary works:
UK copyright continues for 70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work [including translator] dies.*

For the UK, if  the author is unknown, copyright will last for 70 years from end of the calendar year in which the work was created, although if it is made available to the public during that time, (by publication, authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.), then the duration will be 70 years from the end of the year that the work was first made available.

For the US copyright endures for a term consisting of the life of the author and 70 years after the author’s death [including translator]. 

For the US, in the case of an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication, or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.

onion © Hippocrates initiative 2012: hippocrates.poetry@gmail.com