Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Forward Prize Winners

   Unlike last year's unexpected recognition of Jorie Graham and Denise Riley, there were no surprises at the Forwards last night with Michael Symmons Roberts' Drysalter winning Best Collection and Emily Berry's Faber debut Dear Boy getting Best First:
  I was an admirer of Corpus in particular but I have the sense as time goes on that Symmons Roberts is writing the same poem over and over again: and wasn't that "urge to find the immanent in the ordinary material world" an over-familiar trope in the first place? In this Guardian poem, from the predictable Biblical title on ('Through a Glass Darkly'), you can see the prize-winning qualities of what's held to be "real poetry": the reverential Burnsidean tone, the parsing of vague spiritual intimations onto a natural landscape in a way that's actually never far from a kind of pathetically-fallacious melancholy ("I pray for days like these"),the neatly-spaced inventory of metaphors and the clincher of a last line, snapping closed the poem's nebulous Pascal's Wager with a textbook, stars-as-heaven cliché.
    Come back Jorie Graham, we need you!

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