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Wednesday, 26 January 2011
The good news is that a poet has won the Costa Book of the Year prize two years in a row - for the best popular book of the year, beating out impressive novels and non-fiction. The poet this year is Jo Shapcott - a brilliant and likeable figure who is widely admired in British poetry circles - for her first collection in a decade, Of Mutability, which, among other things, explores surviving breast cancer. An important subject, a fine poet, and superb poems. So, hats off to Shapcott. The only question is - why wasn't such a loved and admired book on the ten-strong TS Eliot shortlist? The answer, I suppose, is that the judging of poetry remains an art, not a science - so it is good that poetry prizes are as various as the poets they seek to support. Are they as numerous as poets, too? Almost.