"Murray is the best kind of literary biographer" – The Financial Times.
For more information about the books of Nicholas Murray
click HERE and access his website
Winner of the 2015 Basil Bunting Award for poetry

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Slogans of St Paul's

Walking around the anti-capitalist camp outside St Paul's yesterday I saw some interesting slogans. Good to see a spirit of linguistic invention in our stale political culture:

Thursday, 20 October 2011

No Comment

This was spotted in Foyle's bookshop at St Pancras International .

Thursday, 13 October 2011

It Could Be You: Change in the Bizarre World of Literary Prizes?

News of plans to start a new literary prize in response to the decline of the Man Booker's reputation are welcome but, if one ponders it for more than five minutes, the surprise is that it has taken so long for the literary establishment (whence the new idea originates though they won't like me for saying it) to realise something was radically wrong.  To suggest that a literary prize should be awarded solely on literary merit rather than basing the award on the usual British populist criteria is hardly a startling piece of innovative cultural "blue skies thinking".  It should be bleedin' obvious.  But at least the focus is on the right issue: what should be considered excellent, rather than the usual prize preoccupations about which favoured person should be given an award they don't need by one of their friends who received it last time they were a judge etc etc.  The tangled web of favouritism and conventionality routinely ensnares the usual suspects and there is a certain type of 'prize writer' (especially in the poetry world, where it can be seen in sharper relief because that world is so small) who is, as the Italian Catholics say of cardinals who are potential Popes – papabile  – or designed to win prizes.

But what concerns me is that the very people advocating this new incorruptible, aesthetically pure prize are the same ones who control the levers of literary power: the agents and publishers, however laudably critical they might be of the current mess, who, the rest of the time, are solemnly telling authors that "no one wants" anything other than genre fiction, that X and Y will no longer sell, etc etc.

Let there be prizes.  Let there be more prizes.  But let there also be publishers of vision, ambition, originality, daring.  And let pigs fly in a beautiful, curving arc across the roseate dawn sky.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

La Rentrée or National Poetry Day is Here

Apologies to regular readers of this blog (Sid and Doris Bonkers of Neasden) but I have been silent since the 15th August (a date known to me since my Catholic childhood as The Feast of the Assumption) and a new month has begun so I really must do something about this slothful inaction.

I am still trying to pick myself up off the floor after bringing back from France with me Hélène Lenoir's shattering novel of the dark side of the family, Pièce rapportée, [a French idiom which means someone connected to the family by marriage but never considered quite part of it] and maybe I will blog about this soon. Otherwise I have been re-reading with the usual pleasure Wordsworth's Prelude, but you don't want to know this.

So some useful information at last: Thursday is National Poetry Day and lots of things will be happening.  For Londoners there are events at the Southbank Centre organised jointly with the Poetry Society, now seemingly cured of its recent bout of self-destructiveness.

I am grateful to the incomparable Katy Evans-Bush for this summary of what will happen on Thursday: "It's look-to-the-future time for the Poetry Society, and the day's festivities are all over the future: the Foyle Young Poets of the Year will be announced earlier that day, and judges Imtiaz Dharker and Glyn Maxwell will read with former Foyle Young Poets Helen Mort (just signed by Chatto) and Richard O'Brien. Children's poets including Michael Rosen and Philip Wells will read, and so will rising young SLAMbassadors.

The theme is Games, and the event will be like a sort of giant poetry fête: there will be poetry quizzes, poetry bingo, poetry cupcakes, a drop-in poetry surgery, and even poetry cupcakes! And also tons of poets.

The day will also feature the launch of the new issue of Poetry Review by the young, Donut-published, Gregory-winning poet Ahren Warner. (Glyn Maxwell is also featured in this issue, and will be on hand.)

And Julia Bird will be running a Poembola! (What could be inside that drum??)

There will be live tweeting from the event, including twitter games and quizzes so people outside London (or in the office!) don't miss out - the hashtag is #NPDLive. "