Poet Sharon Olds scoops TS Eliot Prize for 'confessional' work about her husband's affair
Nick Clark is the arts correspondent of The Independent. He joined the newspaper in June 2007, initially reporting on the stock markets. He has covered beats including the City, and technology, media and telecoms and made the switch to arts in December 2011. He has also contributed articles to the sports section.
Monday 14 January 2013
If revenge is a dish best served cold, Sharon Olds must have been licking her lips last night. Fifteen years after her husband ran off with another woman, the poet scooped the UK’s most prestigious poetry prize for a collection that explored the experience in detail.
The Poetry Book Society (PBS) announced last night that the collection Stag’s Leap had won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, in a year that had seen a record 131 submissions.
The collection has been described as “beyond the confessional” and details the collapse of her 30-year marriage in painful detail.
The poet waited 15 years to take on the subject, after telling her children she would not publish anything for at least a decade.
The collection covers the weeks from her husband announcing he was leaving, and covers her devastation, the loss and each other’s failures. In one poem she said: “I did not know him,/ I did not work not to lose him, and I lost him.”
Olds told one interviewer that she had not run the collection past her husband – something she had always done when they were married – and added Stag’s Leap was “not a fair or a balanced book”.
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, who chaired the panel of judges, said the decision to award the prize to Olds, the first American to win, was unanimous.
She called it a “tremendous book of grace and gallantry, which crowns the career of a world-class poet”. Olds was presented with the award and a cheque for £15,000 in the Courtyard at the Wallace Collection yesterday. The other nine shortlisted poets received £1,000 each.
Olds uses poetry to explore close relationships. Her 1992 collection The Father was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, as was One Secret Thing in 2009, which covered family relationships and the death of her mother.
The TS Eliot poetry prize celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. It was set up in 1993 to celebrate 40 years of PBS. Last year, Scottish poet John Burnside won for his collection Black Cat Bone.
arts + entsThere were towering ideas, some scintillating performances and revelatory grooves... our writers pick out their personal highlights
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
elephant appealPrince William signs up for our charity appeal
peoplePrepare to be entranced by worms as the molecular biologist gets ready to give the Royal Institution science lectures
elephant appealSo says man jailed for cutting off dead elephant's tusks
booksWe examine the best titles for teens
voicesPeople moan that Christmas is too commercial, the spirit lost. But it is a time to over-indulge, and always has been, says DJ Taylor
scienceResearchers teach border collie to understand sentences using more than 1,000 words
booksA Christmas story in six parts
travelWill high-value tourism help the workshops of this Renaissance city?
food + drinkA trifle without custard? Surely not! Nonsense – and here’s three to finish your festive meal that prove it
Geoffrey Macnab does not like the comedian's big screen debut
Arts & Ents blogs
Heavy rain and years of 'benign neglect' may have caused Apollo Theatre roof collapse
Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
Justin Bieber isn't retiring from music after all
Nymphomaniac, film review: 'Despite the surreal sex scenes this is a serious drama'
The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
David Cameron takes his biggest gamble yet as he gets tough on Europe over immigration
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 1 Top PR exec Justine Sacco under fire for sending racist tweet before flying to Africa
- 2 French pub fined €9,000 after customers returned empties to bar - because it's 'undeclared labour'
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 The publisher who played with fire: the battle for control of Larsson's £30m legacy
- 5 Police seize possessions of rough sleepers in crackdown on homelessness
- < Previous
- Next >