Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2014: Shortlist

Press Release:
Dated   Tuesday 03 Mar 2015

The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2014 shortlist is announced:

Patience Agbabi,

Imtiaz Dharker,

Carrie Etter,

Andrew Motion,

Alice Oswald

are announced as the shortlisted poets.
The Poetry Society’s Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry seeks to recognise excellence in new poetry.  The Award acknowledges poetry that goes beyond just the page, highlighting exciting and outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life in 2014.  This year the cultural and the everyday converge to create a thrilling shortlist.
Selected from a wide range of work across all media, this richly diverse shortlist looks at the effects of the mundane and the momentous, retelling myths and reimagining tales to make them relevant again.  From examining conflict to confronting the effect of putting a child up for adoption, this year’s shortlisted poets have poured something personal into each of the works and the result is a series of voices that speak to, and for, all of us.
Julia Copus said of the judging process:
“This year’s energetic and varied consignment of entries for the Ted Hughes Award was, as ever, delivered into our hands by members of the Poetry Society and the Poetry Book Society; it is, in that sense, a peculiarly democratic prize.  A great deal of lively debate ensued as we discussed the merits of the work – performances, books, radio pieces, and all manner of collaborations.  We were looking, above all, for work that surprised and moved us; work that was innovative, but not for innovation’s sake; work that was vital and relevant enough to connect with a wide readership and that took account of the world around it.  In some cases, the crucial element of surprise arose from the spark that flies when two or more artists work together; in others, from the poet’s own imaginative resources.  Our shortlist of five reflects that divergence of approach.”

Established in 2009 by Poet Laureate and Vice President of the Poetry Society, Carol Ann Duffy, the £5,000 prize is funded with the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from HM The Queen.  The award is one of the only prizes to acknowledge the wide range of work being produced by poets – not just in books, but beyond.  Previous winners of the £5,000 prize include Maggie Sawkins in 2013 for Zones of Avoidance and Kate Tempest in 2012 for Brand New Ancients.
The final winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony at the Savile Club, Mayfair, London on Thursday 2nd April 2015.  The winners of The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition will also be announced at the ceremony.


Andrew Motion: A Graph Review

Andrew Motion:

Natural Causes (Chatto Poetry 1987)
Love in a Life     (faber & faber 1991)

A Graph Review: 50 with high points 70

Two books, several years apart.  The first published some 25 years ago and the other four years later.  Written by a poet immediately recognised for his skill and quality and now stands with the best of English Poets.  I am more than happy to read these, his style is of narrative, rhythm and variation, with images that both show and threaten to break away from the theme of the poem, the collection.
The two books are written by the same hand but the later,  Love in a Life shows a growth in strength of handling verse, dexterity in imagery and story-telling that stands alone.  Confidence in his own voice fills every poem of this second collection.

Natural Causes            9780701132712.    Paperback

AM natural causes coverBoth books contain many stark images.  Elements of death feature throughout.  Yes, you might say, but such good death!  He is by no means alone in having death trailing around his poetry, it is a theme well taken by many, past current and no doubt future.  It is a common theme for poets of any age and Andrew Motion links in with a full range of ability.
Love in a Life        9780571161393.     Hardback.             0571161014. Paperback

AM love in a life coverAll I can do, apart from be jealous, is let you know that here are two books worth reading, in order, together, however you fancy!   There are 19 poems in the second and 9 in the first.  A pleasing variety in length, some poems much longer than many in newer books I have read/reviewed.

UK Poet Laureate from 1999 to 2009, the first poet to accept the laureateship on condition he carried it for ten years rather than for life.  Seems a sensible arrangement as the award, though an honour is no doubt something of a burden with the expectations of ‘writing to order’ for National Events.  Mind you, either it happens or it doesn’t, is good or is not. Would it be a snap of the day that survives, good or bad in the public arena?  Any art is of the day and sits somewhere in the eye of the beholder.  If it survives on a scrap of clay or an apple tablet for a thousand years, when it is discovered, art/a poem may be still be judged as either good or bad.  Labelled art or artefact.

Natural Causes, won the Dylan Thomas Prize, 1987.

The skill in producing these two volumes shines through.  The use of language and rhythm, line lengths that vary and break like a conversation, sometimes with rhymes and par-rhymes tucked in.  His poetry contains the smooth and staccato of speech and mood. Language is part of the schematic, with dramatic changes of word-tone having the effect of an unexpected prod in the ribs.  Shifting images that break away from the scene but add balance to the subject work like cinematic shots that flick from subject to subject or current time to memory.  Much is in free verse but some cling to a little more formality.
Labels like narrative and imagist can sit easily but like all labels I prefer to use them in broadest sense and often just tuck them out of sight.  There is a quote likening him to Edward Thomas (about whom A.M. has written) which is okay by me but you can add other links like Dunn, Hughes and Larkin, (who appears in one poem and is nodded to in another).  I have also read that he liked Ivor Gurney for his spontaneity, something which A.M. also appears to have.
His tone is more strident than Ed. Thomas, tender meets anger meets confidence and he certainly does not tie himself down to rhyme that Gurney did.

I usually select a few favourites, with a total number of 28 over two books I just picked four.   I am fond of:

‘This is your subject speaking’. In memory of Philip Larkin  (Natural Causes)

Partly because I visited Hull University a few times when Larkin was still Librarian, never met him but the red brick building is impressive and sticks in the memory just because I knew he was there(!).  As with Larkin, Andrew Motion’s poetry sticks in the mind.

And also:   A Blow to the Head;    Toot Baldon;      Tamworth; ( all from Love in a Life)

Andrew Motion, poet, read him.

Andrew Motion’s 10 tips for being a successful poet

So,  here’s an offering I could not resist linking to:

Andrew Motion ( Poet Laureate, retired)with good advice to all on a BBC arts & entertainment page, item written by Alison Feeney-Hart.  It all seems very sound to me, not that I  do much more than read and write poetry for  my own benefit, though I have to admit that I now like to pass on the enjoyment and frustration of poetry in all its forms.

Link to Andrew Motion’s ten tips:      how to write good poetry

Ten points:   No, I will not labour them here but check them out and see if you agree, and  personal additions should be tacked on for later review, and comfort.   Think about where you need to improve but be sure it is to your creative benefit.  Prefer not to play to the crowd and stick to your own direction.  Having said that in writing and reading, try variety, different, hard and push your boundaries.  You and your poetry will grow.

Which reminds me, I must re-read his: Natural Causes ((Chatto Poetry) and Love in a Life (Faber & Faber)

And if you want to dip into reading and interpreting poetry you will find it surprisingly helpful and informative  for your own work.  Try;  Terry Eagleton: How to Read a Poem (Blackwell Publishing) for a pretty clear and sensible view of the subject, a surprisingly easy (and humourous) read.



Poets Laureate: a wordsearch!!

For Scotland’s International Poetry Festival 20145 – 9 March  there will be an exhibition of Poets Laureate from Dryden to Carol Ann Duffy.

It’s an exploration of the relationship between poet and monarch featuring (UK) Poets Laureate across the centuries and their works including the current Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy.  This will include such as presentation volumes, manuscripts and images of and information on the poets.

This exhibition will be held at The Queen’s Gallery, Holyrood House, Edinburgh, EH8 8DX

Stanza – Scotland’ Poetry Festival 

is a good link to see the who what and where of the full events of Scotlands International Poetry Festival which covers a wealth of fascinating people and subjects.    Just a matter of choosing and booking.

While I am here pondering Poets laureate I should note that there are countless sites/pages to read up on th P.Ls….      All I am mentioning is that the exhibition starts with John Dryden, who was the first official Poet Laureate (from1668-1689).  There had been four ‘unofficial’ poet laureate earlier:      Edmund Spencer 1591-1599;  Samuel Daniel 1599-1619;   Ben Jonson 1619-1637  and William Davenport 1638-1668.

list of laureates          this link is to Hull Uni. but ther must be ‘loads’

Just to add a little difference I include a Wordsearch of the Poet Laureates names though dates are not included..and its not very hard!

laureate wordsearch