Last week in Oldham’s airy, glass-walled library I read alongside the marvellous Ian Duhig, Jen Hadfield and Shamshad Khan (as part of the T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary tour). It was a great evening’s poetry with an attentive, appreciative audience and a warm, warm welcome which has got me thinking about what it meant all that time ago (four whole years!) to have a book short-listed for the Prize.
The arrival of the nomination news was like an odd unexpected dream, coming quite out of the blue, from nowhere. The short-list reading at London’s South Bank was probably the most nerve-wracking I’ve ever done, performing with nine other poets whose work I’d read and admired for years at what is essentially the biggest event of the UK poetry year. The evening is charged with all the history of the prize as well as the honour-list of previous winners, but at a personal level too with the power of what the judges’ own work means to you and the knowledge that somehow your collection made it past their sentinel assessments.
Though I hadn’t anticipated it, last Thursday’s event in Oldham turned out to feel like a mini Eliot Prize reading over again – all the same excitement and lift but super-packed into a smaller space. Five days later and I can still feel it, so thank you PBS, and Chris and Kayo on the night especially, for the re-charge …
Jane Draycott was born in London and is the author of several collections of poetry. Her first two collections, Prince Rupert’s Drop and The Night Tree, were both Poetry Book Society Recommendations. She was named as one of the PBS ‘Next Generation’ poets in 2004 and her audio work with artist Elizabeth James has won several awards. Her latest collection, Over, was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize in 2009 and her new translation of the 14th century dream-vision, Pearl (2011), was a PBS Recommended Translation and a Stephen Spender Prize-winner.