Monday, 14 January 2013

TS Eliot Prize shortlist readings

TS Eliot
Last night I was mixing with the poetry elite....okay, not personally but I was at The TS Eliot Prize readings evening at the Royal Festival Hall.  The ten poets on the shortlist were there (sorry 9, Jorie Graham's publisher read her poems as she was unable to be there).  The other poets were Gillian Clarke, Sean Borodale, Julia Copus, Simon Armitage, Kathleen Jamie, Jacob Polley, Deryn Rees-Jones Paul Farley and Sharon Olds. I knew of or had heard of five of the poets.

The readings were very varied and some poets, like Jacob Polley, I'd like to read slowly at my leisure for it all to sink in.  Sean Borodale's poems are all about his beekeeping.  Having a hubby who knows about bees I understood some of the technical terms but I'm not sure I'd want a whole book on bee poetry!  Paul Farley hadn't been very inspiring when I'd first come across him in the past - but I take it all back!  Maybe I wasn't ready for him because this time I really enjoyed his poetry.  Sharon Olds read two longish poems which I enjoyed, the first in particular - the theme was a relationship breakup. Simon Armitage's poetry book is about the death of King Arthur - not a subject I would want to read about really but Simon was, as ever, amusing with comments and I just love seeing him!  Gillian Clark I got to know through my kid's as she was one of the poets in an Anthology they used in English.  I enjoy her work. Deryn Rees-Jones was disappointing.  She read a sequence of poems about a dog-woman (inspired by some painting of women as dogs??).  Anyway,  they just went on and on and there were lists of descriptions - dog tired, dog breath - and I just wanted it to end! Jorie Graham's poetry was just too confusing, I wasn't sure what it was about. Kathleen Jamie's poems were more interesting, especially the title poem The Overhaul but I'd need to read more slowly to get to grips with others.

I enjoyed Julia Copus poetry very much and am tempted to buy a copy of The World's Two Smallest Humans because she and Paul Farley stood out for me, but poetry is a personal thing and I am sure that others preferred some other poets last night.

After the readings we could buy books and have them signed by the poets but the organisation of that was chaotic.  There was queue to the book stalls where all the books were on tables together.  Last time I was there the tables were separate for each poet and it was much easier to purchase and look at books.  So I didn't bother to stay and will purchase my books elsewhere (I may buy Paul Farley's The Dark Film as well!).

The winner of the TS Eliot Prize will be announced tonight.  Someone said it would be Sharon Olds, but let's wait and see.  I should add that Carol Ann Duffy (Chair and one of the three judges) introduced the evening. I enjoyed it all very much and it's a good opportunity to hear new writers (at least some I've not heard of before) as well as the more famous poets.

1 comment:

  1. I too enjoyed Julia Copus and also Jacob Polley.