Tuesday, 19 January 2010

TS Eliot Prize

Something of a surprise, but a welcome one, that Philip Gross won the TS Eliot Prize last night for his collection The Water Table. He was certainly not one of the favourites, with many tipping Christopher Reid to take the award.

I've only read two of the shortlisted books (the George Szirtes and Hugo Williams collections), so it's hard to make an informed comment about the decision, but I've got a few of Gross's older collections and like them a lot, and have always wondered why he's, relatively speaking, missed out on recognition in the past. I'll have to dig them out to re-read, and catch up with this latest book.

I do have a slight problem with the judges' comments that "it was not merely a collection of poems but also so obviously a book". As Roddy Lumsden suggests over at Poets On Fire, I don't really think that the fact of it being a themed book should be that important - are we saying that an old-fashioned miscellany of occasional poems is somehow less worthy?

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