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Post-TS Eliot Prize post, and a tale of two gaffes

The first two and a half weeks of January have been a bit of a poetry whirl (in the sense of lots of events) and although I’m now happy I’m a bit exhausted, not to mention in need of a reality-check catchup with, er, work stuff.

Last week was the excitement of the T S Eliot Prize readings (and a rather cold car journey there and back since the heating packed up.) Some excellent readings and a super atmosphere – I won’t review it here but there are plenty of interesting accounts of the evening, and photos – for example on Peter Kenny’s blog and Hilaire’s blog.

Don Paterson at the TS Eliot Prize readings

Then the very next day I hauled my smart-ish self up to London again, this time to the V & A for the T S Eliot prize giving ceremony. I won’t lie to you, this was daunting. I looked around and knew virtually nobody, at least, nobody who would greet me as someone they knew. Even the lovely folks from the Poetry Society, who I thought did know me, were a bit vague when I said hello in the queue to get in, and didn’t give off the ‘come chat to us’ vibe. I was very grateful to Anne-Marie Fyfe, who I did approach and who greeted me warmly by name. (It always impresses me when people who encounter hundreds of people every week are able to remember names of those they’ve maybe only met once or twice, with apparent ease. I’ve seen Anne-Marie do this at the Troubadour and it’s awe-inspiring. ) Anne-Marie reassured me that many of the folks in the room were friends, family and publishers of the shortlisted poets, and therefore unlikely to be familiar anyway. Nonetheless it was a strange feeling to be so at sea among what was undoubtedly a poetry circle to which I don’t have (and probably never will have) the key.

Confession time: I managed to snatch a few photos, and was standing next to Don Paterson (help!) when the winner was announced, hoping to look nonchalant and like someone who wasn’t a gatecrasher. Actually I was thrilled it was Sarah Howe, for several reasons –

  1. I absolutely loved Loop of Jade
  2. she seems such a nice person, and
  3. it saved me from the embarrassment of turning to DP and giving him a big hug. I still managed to babble something to him but I think it was brief and unmemorable, so only a minor gaffe. Phew!

sarah howe wins TS Eliot prize 2016

Meanwhile, back in the safety of my familiar milieu…  Telltale Press had a snack-fuelled AGM last week at Peter’s house and now have plans for the rest of the year and beyond. I’m very grateful to be a part of such a supportive and enthusiastic group of poets. Hurrah!

And latest submissions news is that I decided rather hurriedly to throw out some poems to competitions. One of them was too hurried – after paying £5 to enter the Magma comp, like an idiot I found 3 typos and at least two other things I needed to improve. What’s the matter with me? Could I not have been a bit more careful? So that’s £5 wasted. ACK! Meanwhile, no new or acceptances or declines. So business as usual for now! Now back to work.


Published inAngstBlogEventsPlaces


  1. Loved the post informative fun and funny! Thank you

    • Robin Houghton Robin Houghton

      Aw, thanks Ann 🙂

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Robin Houghton 2021
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