The shortlist for the TS Eliot Prize 2007 has been announced, one of the UK’s biggest awards:
Ian Duhig The Speed of Dark Picador
Alan Gillis Hawks and Doves Gallery Press
Sophie Hannah Pessimism for Beginners Carcanet
Mimi Khalvati The Meanest Flower Carcanet
Frances Leviston Public Dream Picador
Sarah Maguire The Pomegranates of Kandahar Chatto & Windus
Edwin Morgan A Book of Lives Carcanet
Sean O’Brien The Drowned Book Picador
Fiona Sampson Common Prayer Carcanet
Matthew Sweeney Black Moon Jonathan Cape
I like a few of these poets, but my first reaction is to feel it’s a rather conservative, predictable list of names.
As far as publishers go, I make the score:
Chatto & Windus 1
which means 0 for Faber & Faber and Bloodaxe, and no debut on the list for Salt or Shearsman (so no Luke Kennard or Claire Crowther), let alone any of the smaller presses. That's nothing new of course.
The two surprises are Allan Gillis (whose book I must take a look at, as he lives in Edinburgh) and Frances Leviston, whose debut collection is still to be published (so impossible for me to know how good it is). **Actually, I've just realised that it was published today.**
Can Edwin Morgan do it? He probably deserves a lifetime’s service award, and there’s some great stuff in A Book of Lives, but I don’t think it’s his strongest collection.
Difficult to call. I'll say more over the next few days.