This month is always the busiest in the poetry calendar, starting with the Forwards. This year was a ludicrously strong one for debuts (in what other year would Jack Underwood, Rebecca Perry and Kim Moore’s beautiful books not make the cut?) and I enjoyed all the shortlist, but was very pleased that Mona Arshi won for Small Hands, as I have been following her poetic progress since she attended one of my beginner’s classes at the City Lit many years ago and I love the way her voice thrums between clarity and strangeness, delicacy and the dark – you can read ‘The Lion’ here (and then buy the book). Congratulations to her editor Deryn Rees-Jones at Pavillion Press too – a serious new poetry list with a female editor is exactly what we need right now. And Claudia Rankine’s Citizen rightly won the best collection prize. It is so clearly the book for this political and cultural moment, it makes everything else look slightly irrelevant.
I only managed to follow the evening through twitter updates though, as I’ve been very busy since I last blogged – aside from going to two weddings and conkering with my son, I’ve been working away on Somali translations, the new MA and a flurry of school visits. The most recent, to Bootham School in York, has got me in Halloween mood already, as we discussed gothic literature, vampires and werefoxes and I was given a cupcake with bloody toothmarks in it…
The next two weeks are also a bit frenetic, and involve three Ovid events.
In case any of you are interested I’ll be at Cheltenham Literature Festival on Wednesday at 8.15pm as part of the ‘Ancient Poetry Unplugged’ event, along with Gideon Nisbet, who has translated Martial, and Natalie Haynes.
I’m also doing the Jaybird Ovid’s Heroines show at:
Durham, Sunday 11th October 5pm (pocket version)
Palace Green Library, Durham DH1 3RN
Tickets: £6/ £4 from Durham Book Festival
Windsor, Friday 16th October, evening 7.30pm (pocket version)
All Saints Church, Dedworth Road, Windsor SL4 4JW
Tickets: £5 at the door
While I’m typing I’ll also mention that – if you haven’t already seen it – my poem about the language around motherhood, Suffer, is now up at the Morning Star. It’s a central poem in my next book ‘Incarnation’ (which I’ve just sent to Bloodaxe), and lots of people have been asking me how to get hold of it after readings, so nice to have it online.
I will try and blog properly soon, but happy National Poetry Day anyway! I like the theme of light, especially at this time of year as we start thinking about pumpkins, sparklers and getting our chimneys cleared, and am sure the Jaybird/Poetry Society show ‘Beginning to see the Light’ at the Southbank is going to be fantastic.