I do love it that the T S Eliot readings mark the start of the literary year. Coming up on Sunday 12 January all 10 shortlisted poets will be reading at the Royal Festival Hall. If you only go to one poetry reading this year, why not make it this one?
Since October we at the poetry reading group [PRG] have been scrutinizing the shortlisted collections. We had our final meeting last week and came up with a short-short list consisting of, in no particular order: Robin Robertson, Helen Mort, Maurice Riordon, Michael Symmons Roberts, Anne Carson
Michael Symmons Roberts
And if forced to pick one that seemed to rise above all the others we opted for Michael Symmons Roberts's collection, Drysalter.
Why? For the breadth of his vision, complexity of thought, his negotiation of form; for consistently producing poems that take your breath away and demand to be read again; for sustaining this over a book-length collection. These poems will last, they get better with each reading.
Having been so decisive we then backtracked and said that we thought the only thing we could be certain about was that this year's winner was likely to have an R in their name. See how tricky this prize malarkey is? Don't envy the judges.
I had the privilege of reviewing all 10 books for the Poetry Book Society, you can read what I think of the other nine, here.
More on the PRG and setting up a reading group, here.