Thursday, October 08, 2009

"Villains" for National Poetry Day

It's National Poetry Day, and the theme this year was "Heroes and Heroines". The problem for me is that writing a poem about a heroic character is akin to writing the straight man in a comedy; it's hard to be inspired, and the result is often a little flat and tricky to deliver with any conviction.

Now villains ... those fit the dark art of poetry far better. Look at Milton's Lucifer!

And the day begins with the news that at last night's Forward Prizes (already dubbed Backward by some wag), Don Paterson's collection Rain (Faber) won the Prize for Best Collection, Emma Jones (also, um, Faber) won the Best First Collection with her Striped World, and, as Rob MacKenzie put it this morning, The Best Poem category was 'won by the editor at Cape who is published by Picador, where the poetry editor is the winner of the Best Collection.'

So, is it time yet for a revolution?

What we need on the ground is a public symbol of such cosy interdependences, some kind of Bastille to storm. Though even if there was one, and we stormed it, there'd probably only be a few copies of past Faber collections in there to liberate.


Andrew Philip said...

If I do say so myself, the Aldeburgh shortlist represents quite a different view of British poetry in some respects: all small-press collections!

Poetry Pleases! said...

Dear Jane

Better be careful what you say or you might find yourself sharing my compartment on the Siberian poetry express!

Strange that no women made the top ten in the BBC's poetry poll. On reflection, perhaps I should have voted for Sylvia rather than Tom.

Best wishes from Simon