Friday, 14 November 2014

Lists, canapés, congratulations

This afternoon, someone glanced up at me strap-hanging and offered me their seat on the Tube. It’s been a long week.

The photo is from Snape, where I spent last weekend at the Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. Dan O’Brien was, as always, tireless and generous in his reading and in his talking through the background to his Fenton-Aldeburgh prize-winning War Reporter, which he has now done so many times but it never feels that way; he was also launching his new book Scarsdale. Julian Stannard was memorable and funny; I have no complaint at all about his new poems, from Worple Press, outselling the CBe book on Michael Hofmann that he co-edited. I’ve been to Aldeburgh for the last five consecutive years (plus one or two before that); first Michael Laskey and then Naomi Jaffa – who is standing down this year: standing ovation – have created something that is far, far more than the sum of its parts.

On Tuesday J. O. Morgan’s shortlisted At Maldon didn’t win the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year Award – which went to Alexander Hutchison’s Bones & Breath, and all praise. On Wednesday Will Eaves’s shortlisted The Absent Therapist didn’t win the Goldsmiths Prize – congratulations to Ali Smith for How to be Both.

Also this week, May-Lan Tan’s Things to Make and Break has made the cut from the longlist to the shortlist for the Guardian First Book Award (across all genres). May-Lan Tan’s book is one of two short story collections (the other is Colin Barrett’s terrific Young Skins) on the shortlist of five; there is one novel. May-Lan Tan’s book is also on the shortlist for the Bad Sex prize. If both final events are on the same night I may need to upgrade to a taxi.

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