Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sharon Olds wins the T S Eliot prize

Like Sylvia Plath, Sharon Olds set a standard for confessional poetry with her earliest work. In a lifetime of writing she has not looked far beyond the family for her subjects. What a decision.

Her first major UK publication, The Sign of Saturn quickly established her as essential reading. Every book she has released since has made us talk about her.

For the first time, women were in the majority on the 2012 TS Eliot prize list. Inevitable then that a woman would win? Nothing's guaranteed. There will be plenty of chatter. It's already begun - she's too journalistic etc. etc. I haven't read Stag's Leap yet, but I know her influence is phenomenal.

And as the congratulations go back and forth, let's remember Slow Dancer Press and its amazing founder, John Harvey. In 1987, Slow Dancer Press published The Matter of this World, her first collection of poems in the UK. Active between 1977 and 1999, the pamphlets John Harvey produced through Slow Dancer are a fine snapshot of contemporary poetry at the time.

This is the job small presses do. Congratulations to John Harvey, who dedicated more than 20 years to publishing poets and whose list had a good showing of women writers.

More about John Harvey and Slow Dancer Press: http://mellotone.co.uk/?page_id=121