Arts and Entertainment Sinéad Morrissey is the winner of the TS Eliot Prize

Winning the TS Eliot Prize is hardly a matter of life and death. But the film of that name inspired Sinéad Morrissey to pen a collection which finally secured the UK’s most prestigious poetry prize for Belfast’s first poet laureate.

Does this modern nation still need a Poet Laureate?

Poetry has always been a threatened creature. Poets are not literary stars and sell few books

Books: Sadness and anger in injury time

The Triumph of Love by Geoffrey Hill Penguin pounds 8.99

Radio: What are radio's critics listening to?

I was driving at speed in the fast lane of the M25 when a front tyre burst. Some six seconds later the car bumped to a standstill on the hard shoulder. This scary incident happened a couple of years ago, and I've taken to driving much more slowly since. But it still bothered me that I didn't understand how on earth I had wrenched the old banger through dense, fast-moving traffic to safety: it seemed miraculous that the route had been clear. Now at last, after listening to Frontiers (R4), it begins to make sense: it is all to do with subconscious knowledge.

Books: Capturing both soil and starlight

Michael Glover recommends poetry books for children

Arts: Sex, size and schizophrenia

Pushkin was a poet of paradoxes. Misogynist or feminist? Heretic or Christian? One thing is certain: he wasn't a tall man.

Monitor: Picking poets - what the world's newspapers say about the next Laureate

POETRY IS part of our shared, communal life. From this perspective, designating a National Poetry Month might seem as absurd as having a month for Our Genetic Heritage. Yet it is a very good idea just the same. For poetry isn't only bodily, it is also civic. Poetry month and the posting of short poems on subway cars may violate some notion of the form's intimate quality. But the civic space is where language and makers live. In the 17th century, poets - some of them great ones - wrote poems flattering royalty and toadying up to rich, eminent patrons. That was part of the civic life of art, a part of the way that society held on to the art of poetry, thereby preserving it for the unborn.

Hughes buried in home village

ABOUT 200 mourners gathered at a village church in Devon yesterday to pay last respects to the Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, who died last week of cancer, aged 68.

ESTABLISHMENT BARD TOPS LIST

ANDREW MOTION is emerging as front-runner to succeed Ted Hughes as Poet Laureate, writes Marguerite Jones. The biographer of Keats, prolific poet and professor of creative writing at East Anglia is seen as an Establishment figure who would be highly acceptable for the job.

Does modern Britain really need a Poet Laureate?

THE RATE for the job was fixed in 1692 at pounds 100 per year. No one has managed a pay rise since. In the lists of the Royal Household, it features alongside the Swan Marker, the Bargemaster, and the Keeper of the Royal Stamp Collection. It has a cast-iron record for inspiring duff ceremonial verse from major poets - when, by chance or design, major poets happen to win the post.

The life of Brian and his volunteers

As part of the Gate Theatre's A Home for the Exiles season, Brian Friel's Volunteers is receiving its British premiere. Set on a construction site in Dublin, an archaeological dig is in progress, and layers of Irish history are unearthed: a Norman jug, a Viking skeleton with a hole in its skull. As they work, the diggers question their own histories and imagine alternative stories of victimhood for "Leif" the Viking. As a metaphor, its currency is obvious: Mick Gordon, the Gate's Northern Irish artistic director, believes that the people "at home" are now "involved in a difficult and essential process: the disentangling of personal histories from ideological ones." But Friel's (above) metaphorical template is, with fitting inevitability, something of a relic itself. Volunteers was written in 1975, the same year Seamus Heaney excavated "Viking Dublin" in North. Despite the success of Friel's work here, it's not much of a surprise that it took so long to arrive. His previous play, The Freedom of the City, a thinly veiled response to Bloody Sunday and the Widgery report, outraged London reviewers in 1973; and, on the surface, Volunteers is also very much of its troubled time. The diggers are Republican internees, whose volunteering for a civilian cause has made them marked men in prison. But the play represents a transitional stage in Friel's career. He drew back from impassioned polemics and used the political context to challenge historical determinism through an incisive mixture of storytelling, role-playing and irreverent humour. This oblique and bravely inconclusive approach was met with some bemusement in Dublin. One critic lamented that "the great dramatic subject of internment" hadn't received the "great play" it deserved. But, as Translations and Friel's other subsequent plays have proved, the dramatic subject is just the start; the greatness lies in the ground he excavates around it.

Ted Hughes wins pounds 10,000 poetry prize

TED HUGHES, the Poet Laureate, continued his marvellous year last night when his book Birthday Letters won the pounds 10,000 Forward Prize for the best collection of 1998.

Boy who preferred Shakespeare

ENCOURAGING schoolboys to enjoy their literary heritage has always been a vexing task. First, they used to prefer playing football. Then they started watching football. And now, they prefer reading football.

Listening between the lines

What do you gain from hearing authors reciting from their own work? Michael Glover contrasts the voices of poet Seamus Heaney and novelist Iain Banks as they speak for themselves.

Marvels and murders

Opened Ground: Poems 1966-96 by Seamus Heaney Faber pounds 20/pounds 12.99: If you took the rejected poems from Seamus Heaney's new Selected, he'd still be awesome

Obituary: K. W. Gransden

K. W. GRANSDEN, poet, scholar and literary critic, was a man of many and varied talents, whose life no official title can encapsulate. Emeritus Reader in English and Comparative Literature at Warwick University is part of the story, but he was more than that.
Career Services

Day In a Page

Independent Travel
Burgundy, the River Rhone & Provence – Five-star MS Swiss Corona 7 nights from £999pp
Lake Como St Moritz & the Bernina Express 7 nights from £809pp
Vietnam
Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn 7 nights from £939pp
South Africa
Spain
Prices correct as of 19 December 2014
A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?
Finally, a diet that works: Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced

Finally, a diet that works

Californian pastor's wildly popular Daniel Plan has seen his congregation greatly reduced
Say it with... lyrics: The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches

Say it with... lyrics

The power of song was never greater, according to our internet searches
Professor Danielle George: On a mission to bring back the art of 'thinkering'

The joys of 'thinkering'

Professor Danielle George on why we have to nurture tomorrow's scientists today
Monique Roffey: The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections

Monique Roffey interview

The author on father figures, the nation's narcissism and New Year reflections
Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Introducing my anti-heroes of 2014

Their outrageousness and originality makes the world a bit more interesting, says Ellen E Jones