The Blagger's Guide To...The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry
Life, death, lunch and prisoners in the rain
Sunday 13 March 2011
*Hailed "a superstar" of British poetry, Carol Ann Duffy has also become a Robin Hood figure since being made Poet Laureate in 2009.
Clearly the honour of versifying Prince William's wedding and receiving 477 litres of finest Buckingham Palace sherry have been reward enough for Duffy because she has given away her £5,750 honorarium to create a poetry prize named after a previous laureate, Ted Hughes. The annual sum now goes to the Poetry Society, which runs the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Hughes took the laureate post more seriously than most: he was a friend of Prince Charles, and read bedtime stories to the young princes William and Harry at Highgrove.
*This is the second year the prize has been run, which distinguishes itself for seeking not just conventional poetry in words, but also in music and performance. Last year's award went to Alice Oswald, for her collection Weeds and Wild Flowers. All work created between 1 January and 31 December 2010 is eligible, and a shortlist of five has been selected. The winner will be announced on 24 March. The shortlist has works that include elements of film, translation and live performance. Here are the contenders:
*Martin Figura has written a series of poems called Whistle, which he also performs as a one-man show. It tells the story of the death of his mother, killed by his father when he was nine. Critics have called it "profoundly honest and at the same time joyfully entertaining", and despite the grisly subject matter, it manages to be profound yet humorous.
*Tragedy is at the heart of The Persians, Kaite O'Reilly's retelling of Aeschylus's play of the same name. Even in 472BC The Persians was unusual, being the only Greek play to take a recent event – the defeat of the Persians at the Battle of Salamis – as a subject. O'Reilly wrote her version specifically for a site in Brecon where it premiered last summer. As an accomplished classicist, perhaps it is no wonder that O'Reilly has been awarded a commission by the 2012 Cultural Olympiad.
*One of the hits to emerge from the BBC's poetry season last October was Christopher Reid's The Song of Lunch, a one-off drama in verse inspired by a scene in James Joyce's Ulysses. Starring Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, it tells the story of a lunch in a Soho restaurant with two former lovers. Reid wrote it after writing a book about the death of his wife, and found himself weaving the Orpheus legend into the story – no wonder the BBC commissioning bod said "her heart sank" when he pitched it. Still, the critics went mad for it.
*You might think it's the least of their worries, but prisoners long to feel the rain. This was one of the poignant discoveries made by David Swann after spending a year as writer in residence at HMP Nottingham, inspiring his collection The Privilege of Rain. Swann used to write match reports for Accrington Stanley; today he teaches creative writing, and unlike prison writers such as Jeffrey Archer, was able to come and go when he pleased.
*Music and sound are at the heart of Katharine Towers's debut poetry collection, The Floating Man. The Oxford graduate and mother of two writes with what has been called a "pianistic sense of timing, touch and tone", about nature and music. "Music's precision is something that poetry will always have to aspire to," she recently said. Sounds like a perfect winner for the Ted Hughes Prize.
Review: Of Mice and Men
By opportunistic local hoping to exhibit the work
Fans will be hoping the role finally wins him an Oscar
What do gigantic horse heads tell us about Falkirk?
Finnish Postal Service praises the 'self irony and humour' of the drawings
The actor has confessed to his own insecurities
Allotments are the focus of a new reality show
Arts & Ents blogs
The best movies on Netflix: 32 films that will end your endless scrolling
Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
Mrs Doubtfire 2: Robin Williams set to star in sequel to 1993 comedy
Record Store Day 2014: Best exclusives coming to a UK independent record shop near you
Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage on Have I Got News For You: Ukip leader ridiculed over expenses and party 'fruitcakes'
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
- 1 Are you turning into your dad? The top ten signs you've embraced dad-ism revealed as survey says 38 is age men turn into their father
- 2 Overheard in Waitrose: documenting the chatter in 'Britain's poshest supermarket'
- 3 Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy attacked as 'sinful'
- 4 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 5 Grace Dent on TV: Game of Thrones has jumped the shark