Thursday, 22 October 2009

The TS Eliot Prize

The shortlist has been announced, and The Guardian ran a lengthy piece about the runners and riders here.

They seem to have spread the net a bit further than the Forward did (although their shortlist is twice as long, to be fair), but I think Simon Armitage might be slightly overstating the case when he says that the list reflects the "scope and breadth" of contemporary British poetry. Still, it's good to see someone like Philip Gross (a really underrated poet, IMHO) in there, and Alice Oswald, and Christopher Reid.

I am slightly baffled by what they say about Hugo Williams, mind you. Now I absolutely love his books, going way back, but one of the reasons I love them is precisely that he seems to be forever rewriting the same poem, trying to perfect it. West End Final's a really fine book, but I can't honestly see it as a great leap from Dear Room, or Billy's Rain. Good to see him there, though.


Alan Baker said...

"Armitage might be slightly overstating the case..."

There's a line between overstatement and falsehood, and I think Armitage has stepped over it here. All the people on the list are accomplished writers, but, with the possible exception of Alice Oswald, they all write a similar type of poetry. There are lots of other types of poetry that aren't represented here. Mind you, you'd need a long list...

I've got no problem with groups of poets awarding each other prizes, but I do have a problem when they claim to be represent all the poetry being written.


Matt Merritt said...

I thought I'd err on the side of understatement!

I agree with what you say, Alan, although I suppose with this sort of thing there's always pressure from the organisers/sponsors/media to say that sort of thing. But I'm not sure why there's always this concern in poetryworld to be seen to be covering all bases.