Shortlist, 2017 Costa Poetry Award
Moniza Alvi Poet
Kiran Millwood Hargrave Author
Nicholas Wroe Guardian Writer and Editor
This (from below my italics) is from the poetry page of Costa, for the results of all shortlists click for link: Costa Awards 2017 shortlist
Many other links you could choose as alternative, I would also offer the Guardian pages
The main question for me is which title/author will I plump for reading as I have not read any of the books? ‘All’ is not a useful answer as I have to start with one and the judges comments guarantee each one needs to be read.
So, its the debut collections first as the poets are new to me. Next, is it the new take on ‘Nature’ (Useful Verses) to ride on my long-term interest in said subject or the challenge of race and identity (Kumukanda) which also ticks a large box despite my being ‘old, white and British’? …… but it is ‘being an outsider/onlooker’ that marries into both, maybe all poetry…… so maybe for me the interest is also a challenge of seeing and feeling through other peoples eyes what I cannot expect to really understand but would like to try. So Kumukanda, is the one I will buy and review first
by Kayo Chingonyi (Chatto & Windus)
Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. Kayo Chingonyi’s debut explores this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived. Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, this debut collection is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.
Kayo Chingonyi was born in Zambia in 1987, and moved to the UK at the age of six. He is the author of two pamphlets, and a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry. In 2012, he was awarded a Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, and was Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in 2015.
Judges: ‘Energetic, skilled, tender and bold – this is an outstanding collection by a major new talent.’
Inside the Wave by Helen Dunmore (Bloodaxe Books)
To be alive is to be inside the wave, always travelling until it breaks and is gone. These poems are concerned with the borderline between the living and the dead – the underworld and the human living world – and the exquisitely intense being of both. They possess a spare, eloquent lyricism as they explore the bliss and anguish of the voyage. Helen Dunmore was a poet, novelist, short story and children’s writer. Her poetry books have been given the Poetry Book Society Choice and Recommendations and won several prizes including the Cardiff International Poetry Prize, the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award and the Signal Poetry Award. Her poem ‘The Malarkey’ won the 2010 National Poetry Competition. She published fifteen novels and three books of short stories – most recently, Birdcage Walk in 2017. She died in June 2017.
Judges: ‘We were all stunned by these breathtaking poems.’
On Balance by Sinéad Morrissey (Carcanet)
Set against a backdrop of ecological and economic instability, Sinéad Morrissey’s sixth collection revisits some of the great feats of human engineering to reveal the states of balance and imbalance that have shaped our history. The poems also address gender inequality and our inharmonious relationship with the natural world. Sinéad Morrissey was born in 1972 and grew up in Belfast. She read English and German at Trinity College, Dublin, from which she took her PhD in 2003, and has published five collections including Parallax (2013) which won the T S Eliot Prize. She’s lived in Germany, Japan and New Zealand and lectured in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in Belfast and now lives in Northumberland where she’s Head of the Creative Writing programme at Newcastle University. She’s also Belfast’s inaugural Poet Laureate. Judges: ‘This collection appropriately strikes a balance between technical mastery and range and depth of enquiry.’
Useful Verses by Richard Osmond (Picador)
Richard Osmond’s debut collection follows in the tradition of the best nature writing, being as much about the human world as the natural, the present as the past. Osmond, a professional forager, has a deep knowledge of flora and fauna as they appear in both natural and human history, as they are depicted in both folklore and herbal – but he views them through a wholly contemporary lens. Chamomile is discussed through quantum physics, ants through social media, wood sorrel through online gambling, and mugwort through a traffic cone. In each case, Osmond offers an arresting and new perspective, and makes that hidden world that lives and breathes beside us vividly part of our own. Richard Osmond was born in 1987. He works as a wild food forager, searching for plants, fruits and fungi among the forests and hedgerows of Hertfordshire and co-owns an award-winning wild food pub, The Verulam Arms, in St Albans. He received an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors in 2017.
Judges: ‘A contemporary, agile and original take on the intersection of the natural and human worlds.’
Category winners announced 2nd Jan. 2018; main winner announced 30th Jan. 2018.