Ben Okri salutes Corbyn in new poem

Ben Okri salutes Corbyn in new poem

Poet and novelist Ben Okri has "celebrated" Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a new poem called A New Dream of Politics.

Okri said he wanted to write the poem after he was cited as being an inspiration in Corbyn’s first major speech as Labour leader.

In his speech at the Labour Conference in Brighton last month, Corbyn said: “It was the great Nigerian writer Ben Okri who perhaps put it best: ‘The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love.’”

In a poem published in the Guardian, Booker prize-winning novelist Okri responded with a new poem in which he does not name Corbyn but comes close to “conjuring a vision of a bearded angel in a tweed jacket.”

A New Dream of Politics is a salute to idealism, and a rejection of “cynics and doomsayers”, the Guardian has said.

Okri said: “I got a text from a Gibraltar friend who was there – I thought he was hallucinating. But I was very pleased, very touched. It’s a brave thing for a politician these days to admit to reading contemporary writers.

“But we need politicians who read widely, who read the classics, the masters, but who also read contemporary writers, who read across colour, across race, across class. If we don’t politicians who read widely, how can we ever get to a new politics?”

The poem promises: "Always when least expected an unexpected Figure rises”, and concludes: “There’s always a new way/ A better way that’s not been tried before.”

Okri's poem follows the publication of ‘Poets for Corbyn’, a collection of poetry inspired by Corbyn including poems from Michael Rosen and Pascale Petit, which achieved 5,000 downloads in its first week when it was released earlier this year.

Figures in the trade have also said that Corbyn's appointment as Labour leader will be postive for the arts, with authors such as Matt Haig and Katherine Rundell rallying behind him.