A POET born and raised in Newport, was invited to the official residence of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, to present his collection of poems.

RJ Arkhipov, who grew up in Christchurch and shares a surname with his grandfather who claimed asylum in the UK following the Second World War, paid a visit to the Elysee Palace in Paris, France last week at the invitation of President Macron.

Mr Arkhipov presented a copy of Visceral: The Poetry of Blood, his hardback collection of poems, essays and photographs published by the London-based publishing house Zuleika last year.

The work discusses the stigma and sensuality surrounding the gay community through the media of verse, essay and photography.

Mr Arkhipov gained international acclaim in 2015 when he penned a series of poems using his own blood as ink in a protest against the gay blood donor ban in the United Kingdom, United States and much of Europe.


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This protest led to him being approached by Zuleika, with his book subsequently being published on World Blood Donor Day (June 14) last year.

Earlier this year, the wordsmith was one of 12 people long-listed for the coveted Polari First Book Prize.

The competition champions work by writers whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.

On being invited to the Elysee Palace to present his book to the President of France, the 28-year-old writer said: "Paris has always occupied a special place in my heart.

"I left Newport for the French capital at the age of 18 to study French at the University of London Institute in Paris.

"I lived in Paris for more than half a decade.

"To be recognised by the President of France and invited to the Elysee Palace has been a great honour and I am very grateful for the opportunity to present my collection of poems to the President's library."