I finally have some actual news, big news too, and am not sure what to say. I’ve been shortlisted for The 2010 Ted Hughes Prize for Poetry, as you can see from the title of this post was most likely for my deft use of rhyme. I am, of course, thrilled. It is a marvelous thing to have such affirmation for your work and makes 6 years of effort worthwhile. The winner is announced on 24th March at the Saville Club in Mayfair which is pretty swanky. Whistle has only come into being because of huge amounts of help from lots of people, some of whom will be there on the night. First and foremost is my wife Helen Ivory. We got together at the beginning of the Whistle journey and, poor woman, has not known me in a non-Whistle world. This shows no sign of abating yet, she has been uncomplaining, vital and with me every step of the way. George Szirtes will be there as a judge of the National Poetry Competition, also being announced that evening. George was the devisor and my tutor on the Writing The Visual MA I did at Norwich School of Art & Design. 20 minute tutorials could go on for three hours and continued long after the MA was finished. Sadly the MA, along with all creative writing degrees at the Art School no longer exist, which has a new name and a logo that seems to indicate a desire to invade Poland. Karen Hall will be there. She brought Andre Barreau on board and together they made the great visuals for the show, more for love than money. Sadly Andre can’t be there as he’s being George Harrison in the Bootleg Beatles. Finally Sarah Ellis my producer, from Apples & Snakes at the time, is going to be there. Sarah took me on and threw more than money at it when it really needed it and made sure it happened however difficult things became at times. This is a lot of people for one poetry collection, and by no means all the people whose goodwill I called upon. I’m more grateful than I can express to any of them.
Christopher Reid is on the shortlist. He wrote Expanded Universes the first poetry collection I ever bought and it is still one of my favourites. He also sent me an email after the shortlist was announced. It would be indiscreet to reveal the contents, beyond saying it contained the word grrrrrrrr.
I would love to win, but just to have been shortlisted is one of the best things – ever. I don’t come from a bookish background and the whole business is overwhelming. Now I have to practice the right face for the possible eventualities and on the night not take too much advantage of the free wine – I’m assuming there’ll be free wine.