Sunday, 24 January 2021

TS Eliot prize shortlist

On BBC radio 4's Front Row program on 22nd Jan, Lavinia Greenlaw (chair of the TS Eliot prize judges) had the difficult task of describing each of the 10 shortlisted books in a paragraph or so, justifying each without showing favour. I think she was careful to share out the praise without overusing any particular word. She used "extraordinary", "incredible", "astonishing", and "remarkable" twice each; "powerful", "amazing", "startling" once.

She thought that there's a new stylistic freedom afoot (I can believe that) and that poetry's caught up with the present in a way that other art-forms haven't yet (I'm far less sure about that). The poets have "interrogated the constructs". The quote I'll keep is "when language fails, people turn to poetry".

See also The Guardian's article

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