Costa Book Award 2017: Overall Winner

INSIDE THE WAVE    by HELEN DUNMORE 

Announced  Tuesday  30th January, 2018:    Costa Book Award Winner 2017

Its a pleasure to see such a fine collection as overall winner of this year’s Costa Award.

The ‘Acknowledgements’ say some poems have been published in collections, or online and a few broadcast by Radio 3 between 2014 and 2016.    The last poem (not included in first printing) was Helen Dunmore’s final poem.

Here is a  collection of 49 poems in  which many veer between dream and reality where the author herself may wonder which at times.  The Underworld, stories from the classic myths slip into her poems as naturally as her descriptions of hospital visits, views from a window and dreams of childhood and memories.  Interlaced through all (most) is the awareness of dying.  Surprisingly the poems leave this reader with a degree of comfort and calmness from the upfront, conversational language and clarity of style which helps with the adrenalin rush on reading such accomplished work.

From the first poem, ‘Counting Backwards’  to others where her (or of her children) memories recur in different settings; poems personal, twilight dreams, or people; or just the rain  to the last poem( in the first printing): ‘September Rain’.  there is a beautiful control of language and temperament above the full knowledge that the book (author) is cataloging her thoughts towards death. Individually some lines might seem obscure but their balance is always found in other poems.  Water, as sea, pool or rain seems ever-present.

The last two verses of September Rain:    I lie and listen/ And the life in me stirs like a tide/ that knows when it must be gone.  …………….                                                            I am on the deep deep water/ Lightly held by one ankle/ Out of my depth, waiting.

It seems Helen Dunmore has produced an outstanding series of poems which illustrate  humanity and an understanding of mortality to find a preparedness for Death.  Her final poem:‘Hold Out Your Arms’.   returns to one major theme of a mothers endless love. Here, line after line pick up on elements from previous poems and imagery adds more:    ‘Death stoops over me/ Her long skirts slide,/She knows I am shy.’  : from the start of the fifth verse.

A superb collection!

link to Guardian for fuller report   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/jan/30/helen-dunmore-wins-costa-book-of-the-year-for-inside-the-wave

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Costa Book Award 2013: Winner is Nathan Filer

Nathan Filer has won the 2013 Costa Book Award.

Nathan’s novel:  The Shock of the Fall     was perhaps the surprise winner against the much fancied novel by Kate Atkinson.

Novelist Rose Tremain, chairing the judges, said: ‘For a first novel it is astonishingly sure-footed…….I think there is genuine excitement about this winner.’

The prize of £30.000 goes to Nathan for his novel which is an account of grief and the development of schizophrenia after a young man of 19 witnesses his brother’s death.

More details in the Guardian

Poet Michael Symmons Roberts failed to win but it looks like a major new fiction talent is emerging on reading the judges’ plaudits for Nathan Filer.