Thursday, 8 October 2009
The Forward Gold Cup was won by Rain, ridden by Don Paterson, owned by Faber; the Silver Cup for yearlings by The Striped World, ridden by Emma Jones, owned by Faber; best individual horse, Robin Robertson.
I was, obviously, favouring Christopher Reid for the Gold Cup and J. O. Morgan for the Silver, and though I’ve packed away certain emotions in a box and sealed it up, some sense of waste lingers.
The Forward defines its job thus: ‘to bring contemporary poetry to a wider audience’. Small-press books have little opportunity to reach a readership of any size. Some of the poetry magazines take note of them, but to reach beyond that tight circle the small presses need another platform. The books pages of the national newspapers are hardly going to provide that: the lit eds, busy folk, take short cuts, judging by covers – do they recognise the author’s name? Are they familiar with the imprint? No. Then it can’t be much good, can it, because if it was it would have been published by one of the big imprints. There was a chance last night that the Forward could have recognised the worth of small-press poetry, could have given it the platform it needs far more than the big publishers, and the chance went begging.
Nice to see J. O. Morgan’s name mentioned by one of the judges in the Guardian today as one of three of the also-rans ‘who would have graced the winners enclosure in another year’. Still, if I’m told again I should be proud to have published a book that got on the shortlist I shall hit someone.
Another race starts today: J. O. Morgan’s Natural Mechanical is on a shortlist of five books, from an entry of 92, for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. Also on that shortlist, books published by Salt, Yew Tree Press and Templar. No Faber, no Cape, no Picador.
I was steered home to West London last night, by the way, by Michael Horovitz, who has been in this game for decades longer than myself, and I salute him.