24 lengths of the swimming pool this morning aided recovery from plentiful wine at the T S Eliot prize event last night, at which a good time was had. Two observations.
Firstly, these prizegivings are rituals, with etiquette and due process. And while the two speech-givers last night, George Szirtes and Anne Stevenson, were wholly admirable, I find the slow build-up to the naming of the winner excruciating. (And if I find it thus, the poor shortlistees, on parade at the front of the crowd, must find it even worse.) Yesterday I (not a patient man) went outside for a cigarette and returned after the announcement.
Secondly, I was there with James Tennant of Dalkey Archive Press (‘one of the best little publishers in the world’: Guardian, December 2010), and the number of poetry-world folk who had never heard of DA was, to me, surprising. I’m pretty sure that poetry for breakfast, lunch and supper is not a healthy diet; a nutritionist would advise more variety.