Last evening I went to the T.S. Eliot poetry Prize at Royal Festival Hall. A crowd of 2,000 people listened in hushed silence to 10 finalists read their poetry. The evening was filled with grace, humour and a tribute to words creating new visuals for me to savour – phrases like a splash of moon or moonlight locked in a car or the rattle of ground wind.
It was hosted by Ian McMillan, a poet who extolled the virtues of each of the poets – saying about one she made the ordinary extraordinary and about another, her poems created hope for the marvelous and about another, he understands the mixture of high culture and low. The styles of the poets ranged from ballads to tone poems, from funny to poignant.
My personal favourites, just judging from their reading last night as some of the poets were new to me were Julia Copus for her heart wrenching poem about the visit to the fertility clinic; Jacob Polley for his ballad of mother and son; and Sharon Olds for her poems on the break up and healing from her marriage with phrases like “years later he’s like a stick figure.”