Annal: 2002 Whitbread Book Award for Poetry

Results of the Whitbread Book Award in the year 2002.

Book:The Ice Age

The Ice Age: A Collection of Poems

Paul Farley

The new collection from one of the best new talents in contemporary poetry Paul Farley’s debut collection: The Boy from the Chemist is Here to See You was one of the most highly acclaimed in recent years. It won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection;a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Award. In 1999 he was named as the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. His collection was described as ‘a stunning debut’ by the Sunday Times.

The Ice Age sees Farley extend his range to embrace a new and philosophical seriousness. His gift is to uncover the evidence so often overlooked by less attentive observers, finding—in childhood games, dental records and dog-eared field guides—those details by which we are proven and elegised. Formally deft and dizzying in its variety, The Ice Age will consolidate Farley’s reputation as one of the most imaginative and enduring poets to have emerged in recent years.

Book:The Beautiful Lie

The Beautiful Lie

Sheenagh Pugh

Lying and truth-telling are a matter of choice; our innate capacity for mendacity is the source of all story-telling. Thus the title poem sets the thematic tone for a collection which explores the interface between fiction and reality.

In ‘Fanfic’ Pugh travels into cyberspace where devoted fans discuss, rewrite and reinvent cult tv. Fascinated by a world where ecstasy seems part religious, part erotic, the poet give voices to those whose lives, though tinged with pathos, are deeply imaginative. A second sequence, ‘Lady Franklin’s Man’, details the long search for the Arctic explorer Sir John Franklin, his widows’s resilience and enduring love shining through in atmospheric recreations of the land-, sea- and mind-scapes of the mid-Victorian era. Other poems include a dubious paean to the “vampires of mercy” and the prize-winning ‘Toast’, a heat-soaked homage to “young builders golden and melting on hot pavements.”

Book:Something for the Ghosts

Something for the Ghosts

David Constantine

David Constantine is one of the finest poets writing in English. His poetry stands outside the current literary climate, and like the work of the European poets who have nourished him, it is informed by a profoundly humane vision of the world. Its mood is often one of unease, elegiac or comically edged, barbed with pain or tinged with pleasure. His poems hold a worried and restless balance between celebration and anxiety, restraint and longing.

Book:Voodoo Shop

Voodoo Shop

Ruth Padel

The fifth and best collection of poetry from the award-winning author of Rembrandt Would Have Loved You.

Beginning with a love letter and ending with a haunting meditation on departure and migration, Voodoo Shop takes the reader on a series of spectacular journeys across the world. Tori Amos chooses a piano in Vienna; Bridget Riley argues about art in a Venetian piazza; lovers buy each other voodoo dolls in Rio. The poems are separate dramatic scenarios with a strikingly varied cast of characters, but taken all together, they enact a single love story.

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