e a m harris

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Archive for the tag “Poetry prizes”

T S Eliot Prize is 20 this year

This major poetry prize, run by the Poetry Book Society (PBS), has reached a milestone.  Over the years many well-known poets have been shortlisted and this year is no different.

In 2011 the prize ran into some controversy when John Kinsella and Alice Oswald, two of the shortlisted poets, withdrew from the competition. They felt they could not take part after sponsorship from Aurum, a fund management company, was announced.

So that this doesn’t happen again, it is now part of the competition entry requirements that the publishers (who are the ones who submit the books to be judged)  act on the following:

the Prize will benefit from the second year of Aurum support, so publishers should not enter their work unless the poet accepts this.

To celebrate twenty years of supporting and encouraging poetry, the PBS is running a national T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary Tour which will visit Portsmouth, Winchester, Oldham, Halifax, Ludlow, Glasgow, Norwich, Liverpool, Durham and Sheffield between 17 September and 15 October.

Has poetry changed much in the last twenty years? I think performance poetry has increased and has had an effect, but I’m not aware of other large changes – just of the continuous gentle pushing out of the envelope by inventive individual poets.

What will it be like in 2033? Will the 40th Anniversary Tour be virtual? or beamed from space? will we still be around to find out?


Poetry prizes

I’ve been getting email newsletters from the Poetry Book Society with details of the shortlist for this year’s T S Eliot Prize – the most recent one focuses on David Harsent. I’ve also received a flyer and recommendation form from the Poetry Society about the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

Checking around I see there are a number of other prizes for poetry collections and pamphlets, in addition to numerous ones, large and tiny, for single poems.

This is an excellent thing. Poets are unlikely to be rewarded with huge book sales, and without the newsworthy prizes probably wouldn’t attract much media attention. Yet poetry is a major art form and its best practitioners need some recognition.

Most poets, of course, don’t win prizes or sell many books, yet they keep on writing and publishing. I do it myself, but I can’t really say why. It’s sort of a hobby, but also more serious than that.

The current crop of prizewinners did the same, some for many years, before receiving anything more than publication and some praise. Perhaps a little of that praise could be spared for the creators of the prizes. They encourage the struggling, reward success and enhance the reputation of the art.

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