Saturday, November 2, 2013

T.S. Eliot Prize Nominations 2013: Poets & Poems

T.S. Eliot Prize in Poetry is one of the most coveted and well known prizes in poetry awarded every year. At present, the prize is £15,000, with each of nine runners-up receiving £1000 each.

T.S. Eliot Image source: Wikimedia Commons

2013 Nominations for the prize include George Szirtes, Robin Robertson, Helen Mort, Dannie Abse, Moniza Albi, Anne Carson, Sinéad Morrissey, Daljit Nagra, Michael Symmons Roberts and Maurice Rioardan. The judges are Ian Duhig, Vicki Feaver and Imtiaz Dharker.

George Szirtes, born in 1948 is a Hungarian-born British poet, writing in English, as well as a translator from the Hungarian language into English. He has lived in the United Kingdom for most of his life. Born in Budapest on 29 November 1948, Szirtes came to England as a refugee in 1956 aged 8. He was brought up in London and studied Fine Art in London and LeedsHis poems began appearing in national magazines in 1973 and his first book, The Slant Door, was published in 1979. It won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize the following year.He has won a variety of prizes for his work, most recently the 2004 T. S. Eliot Prize, for his collection Reel and the Bess Hokin Prize for poems in Poetry magazine, 2008. His translations from Hungarian poetry, fiction and drama have also won numerous awards. ( Source :Wikipedia)

Kolár: Housing Estate

What you cannot see through those windows
beyond the bare hill
is the hand resting on the table,
is the man lying still
on the bed, is the vague gesture
of  the young woman in the hallway
as she remembers something that happened yesterday,
is the mouse hesitating under the draining board,
is the twelve year old boy putting on a record
of  Wiener Blut that he once saw
his parents waltzing to.

All that you see is the all-but-naked child
on the all-but-naked hill against a naked sky,
as if  what you could not see were the question
and she the reply.
Source: Poetry (February 2008).
Robin Robertson: Born in Perthshire, poet Robin Robertson was brought up on the northeast coast of Scotland where, as he says in a 2008 interview, “history, legend and myth merged cohesively in the landscape.” Robertson’s early influences include the stories of Celtic and Classical myth, the vernacular ballads, and folklore. His deeply sensory poems explore notions of love and loss framed by the dialogue between the classical and the contemporary. Describing the poet’s task, Robertson tells of the desire to reveal “the refreshed world and, through a language thick with sound and connotation and metaphor, make some sense: some new connection between what is seen and felt and what is understood.”  (Source: PoetryFoundation)

Cat, Failing

A figment, a thumbed
maquette of a cat, some
ditched plaything, something
brought in from outside:
his white fur stiff and grey,
coming apart at the seams.
I study the muzzle
of perished rubber, one ear
eaten away, his sour body
lumped like a bean-bag
leaking thinly
into a grim towel. I sit
and watch the light
degrade in his eyes.

He tries and fails
to climb to his chair, shirks
in one corner of the kitchen,
cowed, denatured, ceasing to be
anything like a cat,
and there's a new look
in those eyes
that refuse to meet mine
and it's the shame of  being
found out.  Just that.
And with that
loss of face
his face, I see,
has turned human.
Source: Poetry (November 2007).

Helen Mort was born in Sheffield in 1985. Her collection 'Division Street' is published by Chatto & Windus. She has published two pamphlets with tall-lighthouse press, 'the shape of every box' and 'a pint for the ghost', a Poetry Book Society Choice for Spring 2010. Five-times winner of the Foyle Young Poets award, she received an Eric Gregory Award from The Society of Authors in 2007 and won the Manchester Young Writer Prize in 2008. In 2010, she became the youngest ever poet in residence at The Wordsworth Trust, Grasmere. 

Passing Place


Stall here and let the world
go past, the way
the world well might
on heather-coloured days like this,
an Assynt autumn crawling
from the West.
Let unfamiliar crofts
approach too fast,
their windows headlamps
trained at you,
then Suliven, prehistoric,
speeding down the one-track road
until that road’s a living stream
of marshland, swamp,
the whole damn sea, then
every town you've ever driven through,
thought less of than you should.
Look, here's your house
your room, your matchbox parents
clinging to the door.
Sit still and grip the wheel,
just don't look back -
behind, in the next layby,
all you left waits
with the engine running,
still in gear.
Source: Granta
Dannie Abse is considered one of the most important Welsh writers of the past century, Abse was born in Cardiff, Wales, to non-Welsh-speaking parents, but has lived mostly in London. His poetry collections include Selected Poems (1970), winner of an Arts Council of Wales Literature Award;Pythagoras (1979); Way Out in the Centre (1981); Ask the Bloody Horse (1986); andRunning Late (2006), for which he was awarded the Roland Mathias prize. Judge Glyn Mathias wrote that the volume contained “wonderful evocations of atmosphere, regret, longing for the simple, familiar things—and anticipation of it all passing. Every poem has something—some phrasing, some image that gives the reader that tremor of sudden recognition.”  (Source: Poetry Foundation)

A Heritage

A heritage of a sort.
A heritage of comradeship and suffocation.

The bawling pit-hooter and the god’s   
explosive foray, vengeance, before retreating   
to his throne of sulphur.

Now this black-robed god of fossils
and funerals,
petrifier of underground forests
and flowers,
emerges with his grim retinue
past a pony’s skeleton, past human skulls,
into his half-propped up, empty, carbon colony.

Above, on the brutalised,
unstitched side of a Welsh mountain,
it has to be someone from somewhere else   
who will sing solo

not of the marasmus of the Valleys,   
the pit-wheels that do not turn,   
the pump-house abandoned;

nor of how, after a half-mile fall   
regiments of miners’ lamps   
no longer, midge-like,
rise and slip and bob.

Only someone uncommitted,   
someone from somewhere else,   
panorama-high on a coal-tip,   
may jubilantly laud
the re-entry of the exiled god   
into his shadowless kingdom.

He, drunk with methane,
raising a man’s femur like a sceptre;
she, his ravished queen,
admiring the blood-stained black roses
that could not thrive on the plains of Enna.
Source : Dannie Abse, “A Heritage” from New and Collected Poems, published by Hutchinson. Used by permission of The Random House Group Limited by Poetry Foundation.
Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and came to England when she was a few months old. She grew up in Hertfordshire and studied at the universities of York and London. Peacock Luggage, a book of poems by Moniza Alvi and Peter Daniels, was published as a result of the two poets jointly winning the Poetry Business Prize in 1991. Moniza Alvi went on to write five further poetry collections. Moniza Alvi now tutors for the Poetry School and lives in Norfolk. In 2002 she received a Cholmondeley Award for her poetry. ( Source: Website of Moniza Alvi)


About human love,
                              she knew nothing. 

I’ll show you he promised.
But first you need legs.

And he held up
                         a knife

with the sharpest of tips
to the ripeness of her emerald tail.

She danced an involuntary dance,
            twitching with fear.
            he slit

down the muscular length
exposing the bone in its red canal.

She played dead on the rock
           dead by the blue lagoon
           dead to the ends of her divided tail.

He fell on her, sunk himself deep
into the apex.

Then he fled
                     on his human legs.

Human love cried the sea,
the sea in her head.

Anne Carson is a professor of Classics as well as a poet, essayist and translator. “In the small world of people who keep up with contemporary poetry,” wrote Daphne Merkin in the New York Times Book Review, “Anne Carson, a Canadian professor of classics, has been cutting a large swath, inciting both envy and admiration.”Carson has gained both critical accolades and a wide readership over the course of her “unclassifiable” publishing career. In addition to her many highly-regarded translations of classical writers such as Sappho and Euripides, and her triptych rendering of An Oresteia (2009), Carson has published poems, essays, libretti, prose criticism and verse novels that often cross genres. Known for her supreme erudition—Merkin called her “one of the great pasticheurs”—Carson’s poetry can also be heart-breaking and she regularly writes on love, desire, sexual longing and despair. Always an ambitious poet whatever her topic or genre, Merkin wrote of Carson’s The Beauty of the Husband, “I don’t think there has been a book since Robert Lowell’s Life Studies that has advanced the art of poetry quite as radically as Anne Carson is in the process of doing.” Source: Poetry Foundation

Anne Carson's writes very long poems. A short poems could not be found.

Sinéad Morrissey is a poet from Northern IrelandRaised in Belfast, she was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where she took BA and PhD degrees, and won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1990. She has published four collections of poetry: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996), Between Here and There(2001), The State of the Prisons (2005), and Through the Square Window (2009), the second, third and fourth of which were shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. After periods living in Japan and New Zealand she now lives in Belfast, where she has been writer-in-residence atQueen's University, Belfast and currently lectures. ( Source: Wikipedia)

In my dream the dead have arrived
to wash the windows of my house.
There are no blinds to shut them out with.

The clouds above the Lough are stacked
like the clouds are stacked above Delft.
They have the glutted look of clouds over water.

The heads of the dead are huge. I wonder
if it’s my son they’re after, his
effortless breath, his ribbon of years ─

but he sleeps on unregarded in his cot,
inured, it would seem, quite naturally
to the sluicing and battering and pairing back of glass

that delivers this shining exterior …excerpt from "Through the Square Window"

Daljit Nagra was born and raised in west London by his Punjabi parents. He was awarded the Forward Poetry Prize for best single poem in 2004 and his debut collection, Look We Have Coming to Dover! was published in 2006 to great acclaim. 
Ode to Harrowby DALJIT NAGRA
All shades to the good in my heartfelt Harrow
with its Metropolitan Line for the sticks or the city!
Look at us side by side and mucking-in for the graft
for Harrow's no one's centre - everyone's home!
Harrow is stalls bustling with enormous gourds, 
aubergines and plantains! Harrow is Polski Sklep,
seasonal matzos, and the daily splash-island-song 
of pomegranate, guava, melons and mangoes!
Harrow is ball-clacking shinty, cricket, bowls
and a workout for zumba, bhangra or freestyle!
Harrow is Diwali, Eidh, St Patricks, Channukah
alongside summers of jazzy razzamatazz melas!
These sepia shades of tall-trees and slant-parks
were home for Romantic Lord Byron, home too
for India's jewel of Independence Jawaharlal Nehru
and we'll fight on the beaches Winston Churchill!
Home too for our time-bending Roger Bannister -
imagine him pegging-it down the lanes for school
at Vaughan Primary where nowadays my daughters
are at home in the countries and continents of tongues!
May my children and all the children of Vaughan,
all who claim their origins from over the rainbow,
learn to love whatever is kaleidoscopic or contrary
in our youthful Harrow with its arms flying in the air!
Source: Website of Daljit Nagra

Maurice Riordan was born in 1953 in Lisgoold, Co. Cork. His first collection, A Word from the Loki (1995) was nominated for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Floods (2000) was a Book of the Year in both the Sunday Times and Irish Times. The Holy Land (2007) won the Michael Hartnett Award. He lives in London and has taught at Imperial College and Goldsmiths College, and is currently Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University. 

after the Maltese of Immanuel Mifsud

In the electronic age, every nutcase
With a notebook is writing a masterpiece.
They spend their nights locked up in chat rooms
And emerge with red eyes and love poems. 
Source: Poetry Foundation
Michael Symmons Roberts is a British poet. He has published six collections of poetry, all with Cape (Random House), and has won the Whitbread Poetry Award and the Forward Prize, as well as major prizes from the Arts Council and Society of Authors. He has been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, the Griffin International Poetry Prize and the Ondaatje Prize. He has also written novels, libretti and texts for oratorios and song cycles. He regularly writes and presents documentaries and dramas for broadcasting and is Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Mapping the Genome


Geneticist as driver, down the gene
codes in, let's say, a topless coupe
and you keep expecting bends,

real tyre-testers on tight
mountain passes, but instead it's dead
straight, highway as runway,

helix unravelled as vista,
as vanishing point. Keep your foot
down. This is a finite desert.

You move too fast to read it,
the order of the rocks, the cacti,
roadside weeds, a blur to you.

Every hour or so, you pass a shack
which passes for a motel here:
tidy faded rooms with TVs on

for company, the owner pacing out
his empty parking lot. And after
each motel you hit a sandstorm

thick as fog, but agony.
Somewhere out there are remnants
of our evolution, genes for how

to fly south, sense a storm,
hunt at night, how to harden
your flesh into hide or scales.

These are the miles of dead code.
Every desert has them.
You are on a mission to discover

why the human heart still slows
when divers break the surface,
why mermaids still swim in our dreams.
Source: Poetry (June 2003).

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