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Fiction |  Non-fiction | Poetry | First book

Poetry shortlist

Robert Crawford, Full Volume
Jen Hadfield, Nigh-No-Place
Frank Kuppner, Arioflotga
Tom Pow, Dear Alice

 Commenting on the Poetry shortlist Lillias Fraser on behalf of the judges said :

“The range of the shortlisted poetry collections is specially impressive. There's a vivid sense of physical places, from Dumfries to Shetland by way of Canada or Fife, in the books by Robert Crawford, Jen Hadfield and Tom Pow - while Frank Kuppner's extraordinary booklength poem opens vista after hypnotic vista on the Alternative World of Kuppner.  This writing isn't only describing places in the physical world, but creating ideas of places through the fresh, superbly-crafted poetry:  what does it mean to belong somewhere, to live side by side with history or tradition, but not accept what you see at face value? These four vastly different books are by poets at the top of their game, all using their formidable craft as a rock-steady foundation for adventures in form and imagination.”

Robert Crawford, Full Volume
(Jonathan Cape)

Synopsis - Holding in balance the ecological and the technological, ancient and modern, this work sings languages and cultures, people and habitats burgeoning on the brink of extinction. Assured in its rhymes and cadences, it is often attentive to poetry in other tongues, not least Gaelic.

Book cover of Robert Croft, Full Volume

Author Biography - Poet and critic Robert Crawford was born in Belshill, Lanarkshire, Scotland, in 1959, and grew up nearby. Educated at Glasgow University and at Oxford, he works as Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. He won an Eric Gregory award in 1988 and was one of 20 poets selected for the Poetry Society's 'New Generation Poets' promotion in 1994. He has twice won a Scottish Arts Council Book Award, and four of his collections have been Poetry Book Society Recommendations.

Jen Hadfield, Nigh-No-Place 

Synopsis - The language of Jen Hadfield’s poetry is one of incantation and secular praise. Her first book, Almanacs, was a travellers’s litany, featuring a road movie in poems set in the north of Scotland. Nigh-No-Place is the liturgy of a poet passionately aware of the natural world. Hadfield began her new book on the hoof, travelling across Canada, hungry for new landscapes. She took epic routes: the railway from Halifax to Vancouver and the Dempster Highway’s 740 km of gravel road, ending in the Arctic oiltowns of Inuvik and Tuktoyuktuk. But it is in Shetland that she becomes acutely aware of her own voice. Nigh-No-Place reflects the breadth of ground she’s covered. ‘Ten-minute Break Haiku’ is her response to working in a fish factory. ‘Paternoster’ is the Lord’s Prayer uttered by a draught-horse. ‘Prenatal Polar Bear’ takes place in Churchill, Manitoba, surrounded by tundra.

Author Biography - Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland where she works as a poet, writing tutor, artist and sometimes shop assistant. Her first collection Almanacs (Bloodaxe Books, 2005) won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, which enabled her to begin writing Nigh-No-Place in Canada. She recently received a Dewar Award to produce a solo exhibition of Shetland exvotos in the style of sacred Mexican folk art, incorporating rubrics of very short fiction. She plays the mandolin and banjomandolin badly. Her second collection Nigh-No-Place (Bloodaxe Books, 2008) won the T.S. Eliot Prize, and was also a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection in 2008.

Frank Kuppner, Arioflotga,
(Carcanet Press)

Synopsis - ‘Surely none of us can have been left quite unaffected by the recent startling and unfortunate disaster of the disappearance of the Great Poetic Anthology into the electronic cracks between the major academic institutions which were preparing it – something which one might have thought to be impossible in this age of unremitting communication. Nothing can compensate us for a loss of such magnitude. And yet here is some slight alleviation. Just over a year and a half ago, a copy of what seems to be a version of the index of first lines of the vast confusion of lost poems mysteriously turned up in a Latin American restaurant in Glasgow. No time has been lost in offering it to a still disconsolate public. It is not nothing that a portion of what promised to be the greatest collection of poetical thought of all time has not been utterly lost. And, as it happens, such is now not the case. No. Not so. For here indeed are depths, insights, provocations and astonishments. Or, at least, the beginnings of them.’ Frank Kuppner.


Author Biography - Frank Kuppner was born in Glasgow in 1951 and has lived there ever since. He has been Writer in Residence at various institutions, currently at Strathclyde. Carcanet have published six books of his poetry: A Bad Day for the Sung Dynasty (Scottish Arts Council
Book Award, 1984), The Intelligent Observation of Naked Women (1987), Ridiculous! Absurd! Disgusting! (1989), Everything is Strange (1994), Second Best Moments in Chinese History (1997) and What? Again? Selected Poems (2000).

Tom Pow, Dear Alice
(Salt Publishing)

Synopsis - Tom Pow’s powerful new collection of poetry explores the imaginative legacy of a nineteenth-century lunatic asylum, the Crichton, drawing on the richly-documented history of the site. This remarkable book includes the sequence ‘Resistances’ gathered from female patients’ notes, but Pow brings many others within his compass: Nebuchadnezzar, Tom Thumb, Peter Pan, Charcot (Master of Salpetriere, the female asylum in Paris, ‘that great emporium of human misery’), all make an appearance, as do Freud and the Wolf Man. The Crichton Lunatic Asylum was at the forefront of the great nineteenth century European-wide ‘trade in lunacy’ — a period when old assurances were crumbling and our modern sense of the permeability of identity was being formed.

Book cover of Tom Pow, Dear Alice

Author Biography - Tom Pow has won three Scottish Arts Council Book Awards for his poetry and one for his children’s writing. He has also written a travel book and written radio dramas. From 2001 to 2003 he was the first writer in residence at the Edinburgh International Book Festival and in 2005 was Poet in Residence at StAnza, Scotland’s Poetry Festival. He has taught in Edinburgh, London, Madrid and Dumfries. He teaches at Glasgow University, Crichton Campus in Dumfries, where he is a Senior Lecturer in creative writing and storytelling. In 2007, he received a Creative Scotland Award.

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