Skip to main content

T.S. Eliot Prize Readings

Eyewear (i.e. I) attended last night's readings, at The Bloomsbury Theatre, featuring the ten poets short-listed for the 2005 annual T.S. Eliot Prize - to be decided this very day - more on that decision later this week.

They read in the following order:

Sinead Morrissey; Pascale Petit; John Stammers; Carol Ann Duffy (absent, read by Elaine Feinstein); Alice Oswald; Break; Polly Clark; Gerard Woodward; Sheenagh Pugh; Helen Farish; and David Harsent.

It is an impressive list, and they all read well, except for Duffy, who was conspicuous by her absence. But Ms. Feinstein did a fine job of covering for her.

This competition is too close to call.

I will make a few remarks on the poets. I feel that any of these poets could win this year, without much damage being done to the sterling reputation of this competition. I don't envy the judges at all.

John Stammers is the kind of poet T.S. Eliot himself would have enjoyed, during his early period, as the use of metaphsyical wit, literary allusion (often to the French, or French-inspired New York School), and urban dandyism is close to his Prufrock persona (updated for the new century, of course).

Pascale Petit is exploring the intersection between the personal and the universal in ways new to English poetry, and is fusing her powerful, disturbing imagery with elements drawn from art, and European surrealism - she has built on the precedent of Plath, and made this dark territory of internal suffering brought outwards, her own.

David Harsent has been one of the few sane, intelligent poetic voices in the U.K. to examine the toxicities of war and violence, and its impact on society and the lone person, during the Iraq crisis, and so has established considerable moral and aesthetic weight for his current work.

Sinead Morrissey has written three or so poems in her new collection, which, for their music, intelligence, feeling and virtuoso use of form, push the writing of verse forward a decade or so.

Polly Clark's sense of style, humour and fresh new perspective on love, and animals, establishes her as one of the best of the younger generation of poets now writing in the U.K.

Carol Ann Duffy's new long series of love poems takes the entire canon of English love poetry and turns it on its head, daringly testing found ideas and cliche, and providing her own sense of beauty. "Tea" is an exceptionally moving poem.

Alice Oswald has adopted the tone, high seriousness and mythical agon of a Ted Hughes, and re-expressed it importantly in terms of 21st century language - at once looser, and more austere - and never as assured, given the complexities of how meaning and language are now known to interlock.

Pugh, Woodward and Farish have each written very succesful lyric poems that explore memory, love, loss, and the human need to establish order in a disordered world, through well-deployed images and often inventive lines and phrases.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:

HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!