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Costa Living

This year's Costa Prize is remarkable for the poets who are spread across the genres - not least, Matthew Hollis for his excellent biography of Edward Thomas, the key poet of the English Line.  But then there's John Burnside, up for a novel, or Patrick McGuinness, for best first novel.  Pretty impressive stuff.  However, the four poetry collections raise eyebrows.  They are all by eminent British poets, to be sure - David Harsent, Sean O'Brien, Jackie Kay, and Carol Ann Duffy.  But the claim is that the awards go to the most "enjoyable" books of the year.  This doesn't compute.  Clare Pollard and Roddy Lumsden, to name just two world-class poets, had thrillingly readable books this year.  Indeed, Eyewear received dozens of imaginative, playful, fun, and delightful collections in 2011, including Wendy Cope's superb Family Values, that are more enjoyable than the four selected.  Daljit Nagra?  I fear that poets will never reach a wider audience among the general public when poetry judges continue to opt for over-worthy, safe, and sometimes leaden collections.  The daring of the younger British poets is simply not matched by the establishment perspective, or, in this case, judges who clearly do not have their fingers on the pulse of the moment.

Comments

Poetry Pleases! said…
Dear Todd

I can't hope to compete with Desmond's eloquence, but I'd like to make a couple of points on the subject of commenting. When Katy Evans-Bush read her poetry in Swansea, I spent some time drinking and chatting with her. She told me that she welcomes comments on her blog and doesn't like not getting any. Therefore I think that readers of poetry (or any other) blogs have a mild moral obligation to leave a comment when they are able to do so. The comments don't need to be blindingly original or memorable - they are simply a way of letting the author know that you have read and enjoyed their latest post and, just occasionally , might even generate a wider discussion.

Best wishes from Simon
.
Roy said…
Dear Todd

I am a fairly new veiwer of your blog and hadn't really recognised the lack of comments. I agree with Simon's comment and will endevour to contribute when I can,

Best wishes, Roy

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The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

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summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
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JOHN ASHBERY HAS DIED

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Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

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He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.