Andrew Motion, Imtiaz Dharker, Alice Oswald, Patience Agbabi and Carrie Etter have been shortlisted for the Poetry Society's Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2014.
The £5,000 award seeks to recognise excellence in new poetry and highlight exciting and outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life in 2014.
Poet and children’s writer Julia Copus, who is judging this year’s prize alongside writer Kei Miller and artist Grayson Perry, said: “We were looking for work that surprised and moved us; work that was innovative, but not for innovation’s sake; work that was vital and relevant enough to connect with a wide readership and that took account of the world around it. In some cases, the crucial element of surprise arose from the spark that flies when two or more artists work together; in others, from the poet’s own imaginative resources. Our shortlist of five reflects that divergence of approach.”
Former Poet Laureate Motion [pictured] is shortlisted for "Coming Home", a series of poems that he wrote about the last British soldiers to leave Afghanistan after interviewing them at the British Army camp in Bad Fallingbostel, northern Germany. It was originally aired on BBC Radio 4, and produced by Melissa Fitzgerald.
Dharker, who received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry 2014, is shortlisted for her fifth book of poems and drawings, Over the Moon (Bloodaxe). Her main themes are transitions: childhood, exile, journeying, home, displacement, religious strife and terror, and grief. In contrast with her previous work written about the hubbub of India, these new poems are mostly set in London.
Oswald, who won the Warwick Prize for Writing in 2014, made the shortlist for “Tithonus”, a poem and performance that was commissioned by London’s Southbank Centre and staged there on midsummer’s night, 21st June 2014. Oswald collaborated with nykelharpa player Griselda Sanderson who produced accompanying sounds for the performance. BBC Radio 4’s “The Echo Chamber” broadcasted a shortened version of the piece on midwinter’s evening, 21st December 2014, and the text is available from The Letterpress as a pamphlet.
Completing the shortlist is Etter’s Imagined Sons (Seren), which interweaves two kinds of poems to produce a deepening sense of a birthmother’s consciousness, and Agbabi’s Telling Tales (Canongate), a 21st-Century remix of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales told in Agbabi’s “boisterous” style.
The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry was established in 2009 by Poet Laureate and vice president of the Poetry Society, Carol Ann Duffy. It is funded with the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from the Queen. Previous winners include Maggie Sawkins in 2013 for Zones of Avoidance and Kate Tempest in 2012 for Brand New Ancients (Picador).
This year’s winner will be revealed at an awards ceremony at the Savile Club in Mayfair, London on Thursday 2nd April. The winners of The Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition will also be announced at the ceremony.