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Duffy's Prize

The new poet laureate has met The Queen and announced a new UK poetry prize. It is named for Ted Hughes, is worth £5000, and will run for the next decade, using the annual fees she receives as its award money. My first reactions are mixed, though obviously money to support new work in poetry is a good thing. I suppose I wonder why the prize was not named for a woman poet - there is already the T.S. Eliot Prize.

However, that's not a major concern. What is worth thinking about is that the prize money situation somehow supposes that the fee for the laureate was a frippery meant for better use. It will be morally hard for a future laureate to dispense with this prize, if it does well, but the laureate may not always be self-sustaining or wealthy. The money, though symbolic, actually does allow the poet to pay for things they may want to do - like travel to various events. Andrew Motion, for instance, was all over the UK promoting events big and small.

Poetry tastes and opinions are widely divergent in Britain, and the terms "new work" and "innovative" may not actually join up. Finally, it is just a little puzzling that the very inclusive category - almost confusingly open (even one poem can be considered, as well as multimedia work) - includes books. Unless the judges are very daring indeed, it may be that collections tend to be awarded the prize, when the more refreshing and original idea behind the award, surely, was to prize work that usually falls between the cracks - performances for screen, stage and new media among them.

Ultimately, this prize is a very good thing, so thank you Carol Ann, but it does seem to have been announced very soon in the new laureateship - one which, all things considered - has been going very well indeed.

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Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:

HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!