Tradition and the Individual Prize

In The Guardian, on Saturday, Don Paterson wrote about how older poet-editors need to speak with poets in their 20s, to keep up with the new poetic styles - agreed.  He also discussed the roots of the new Picador Poetry Prize.  He was careful to position the prize in the lineage of the Yale series of poets.  While it is in that lineage, there are far more recent and obvious precedents, and it is telling that these were rather notably overlooked.  The first is the Crashaw Prize, which Salt has successfully run the last few years.  But, more to the point, there is the general American experience of publishing, where almost every debut collection at every credible poetry publisher is adjudicated on in a prize setting.  I just wanted to mention this, because while the nascent Picador Prize may wish to bask in the glow of the Yale series, it really is the nothing new.  A fine venture from one of the major places to find mainstream, excellent BILP - British-Irish Lyric Poetry - but not an original endeavour in the least.  Then again, as Paterson has been wont to argue, The New in Poetry is rather besides the point, and Tradition is equally valuable.


Rob said…
I agree with the basic point you're making, Todd. However, the difference between the Picador Prize and virtually all the comparable U.S. prizes is that the Picador is free to enter. The American prizes tend to impose very high entry fees, which obviously discriminate in favour of those who can consistently afford them. When I think about it, the Picador Prize is just like a normal submission process, but attracts the kind of publicity that the media seem eager to attach to prize collections. It also guarantees that one unsolicited submission will be published, compared to the typical zero.
Kiss My Art said…
Dear Todd

In my more than twenty years experience, far from welcoming new and struggling poets, the British Poetry Establishment usually goes out of its way to suppress and silence them. The reason for this is that they are a classic vested interest, forever scratching each others' backs and covering their own arses.

Best wishes from Simon
Alistair Noon said…
The Picador Prize – like some other prizes and awards of various kinds – restricts entry to those "permanently resident in the UK". Bit like a Home Office notice at Stansted really.

Forgive my constant moaning on this subject on behalf of Anglophone poets living outside of Anglophone countries. Whatever commercial considerations publishers may have when they restrict entry in this way, it clearly reduces the notion of who poets worth reading might be to those who easily fit into a simple category in terms of identity.

Political science has a word for this: Nationalism.
Christian Ward said…
I hope more prizes like this are started. Young British poets (especially ones not drawn from Creative Writing courses) need a footing.

I hope that if the Faber New Poets scheme returns, it will be an open submission process where anyone can enter. It doesn't seem very fair to use scouts that seem to favour MA courses and poetry publications that not many young poets are featured in.

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