I was down in London last week to receive an Eric Gregory Award for the manuscript of Fios, soon to be published as a pamphlet collection by Tapsalteerie Press (http://www.tapsalteerie.co.uk/). The Gregory Awards were given out by Sarah Waters at the Authors’ Awards, held in the Army and Navy Club on Pall Mall – I think my first time in a members’ club, unless the Glasgow postgraduate one counts.
This year the Awards were judged by Moniza Alvi, John Greening, Helen Ivory, Daljit Nagra, Denise Riley and Carol Rumens. The other winners, who seem a diverse and very interesting bunch, were Rowan Evans, Miriam Nash, Padraig Regan and Andrew Wynn Owen. Having read together on Friday at the Betsey Trotwood on Farringdon Road, we’ll be reconvening to perform at the Ledbury Poetry Festival in a couple of weeks. The free but ticketed Gregory reading at Ledbury will be taking place between 12:45 and 13:45 on the 10th of July in the Burgage Hall. You can book here: https://poetry-festival.cloudvenue.co.uk/ericgregoryawardwinners
Each of the winners got a couple of judges’ comments in print. Of my own work, Denise Riley wrote: “This is sharply attentive writing which stays highly attuned to its own habit of close listening, and is always reflectively aware of that fine margin between what it calls ‘the beautiful and bland’.” Daljit Nagra wrote that “At times the mythic scope of this collection, Fios, took my breath away.” Needless to say, I’m deeply honoured to receive compliments like these from such authorities.
Constructions of national identity don’t necessarily have an awful lot to do with art. The language of my poetry is, by and large, English, though often enriched with fragments of Scots and Gaelic. Nevertheless, however attracted I am to ideas of localism and regionalism, I am indubitably a poet (or, if you like, a versifier) from the bit of geography currently known as Scotland. In light of this I couldn’t quite suppress a smile when, in the recently published Dark Horse 20th Anniversary Issue, I found David Wheatley remarking upon the past few decades’ “levelling off of Scottish Eric Gregory Award Winners to almost nil.” You can order The Dark Horse here: http://www.thedarkhorsemagazine.com/subscribe.html