Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Making Headway with the Forward ?

The shortleet for this year's Forward prizes is out and I haven't read a single book on it. No surprise there, as I don't ever seem to keep well abreast of these lists. I don't own any of the titles yet either, although John Burnside's Gift Songs should already be in the post from the PBS.

Without knowing the work, the only interesting comment I can make about the list this year is that it shows Salt Publishing continuing to make advances into the Mighty Handful's share of the publicity cake: one title in the best collection category* and two in the shortlist for the first collection prize**. No mere crumbs these, especially as the Guardian article linked to above leads with a few paragraphs about Luke Kennard, the Salt nominee for the best collection prize. The folk at Salt are understandably and justifiably delighted. It's due recognition of the vibrance, energy and success of their publishing enterprise.

Also interesting is the fact that the Guardian also has an article by Sarah Crown, editor of Guaridan Unlimited Books and one of the Forward judges, about her experience of reading nowt but poetry for three weeks. As far as I recall, such coverage for the Forward is without precident. It's the kind of treatment usually reserved for the Booker or, at a pinch the Whitbread-sorry!-Costa awards. Does this mean that the cultural media are waking up to the Forward? I hope so, though it's probably just a matter of Crown's being on the judging panel. Even if it is, I doubt it means that we'll see many more poetry collections reviewed in the mainstream broadsheet press in a hurry.

*Cape has two, while Picador, Carcanet and Bloodaxe have one apiece.

**The other two are from Arc and Faber.


Chris said...

Totally exhausting 48 hours, but great fun for all the poets. Including Luke who has to interrupt a train journey home to call in his take on things to the Independent, who then sent a photographer to meet him off the train in Taunton. The poor man hasn't slept. Neither have we. Seven years of hard work and very scary finances now beginning to seem worthwhile. We're really, really, really chuffed. All best from the Salteens

Jane Holland said...

I was fascinated by Sarah Crown's Guardian article, since I have the opposite problem - i.e. not being able to immerse myself in fiction for more than a few hours - not even days! - without needing to sit down with a poetry collection as a sort of emotional corrective. I love writing prose but poetry is a necessity. Like oxygen.

And yes, isn't it fantastic that Chris & Jen at Salt have had such a major vindication of their hard work and belief ... It's well done to them and well done to the poets.

Congratulations all round!

Jane x

Andrew Philip said...

Congratulations again to you and Jen, Chris. May the Salt margins continue to increase. I'm very impressed with your balance of mainstream and experimental publications.

Andrew Philip said...

Jane, I know exactly what you mean. I'm much more like you in that respect, whereas my wife devours whole novels in mere hours.

Andrew Philip said...

Oh and of course congratulations to the poets. (Though I haven't read their collections yet.)

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