Over 150 pages of poetry for 9 pounds. There's a quote by blogger Dovegreyreader on the back cover, and Jeremy Paxman was the chair of judges. I read the book quickly. Sestinas seem back in fashion.
It's not so much the choice of poets that surprise me for the book awards, but the poems selected from the books. Benson's "Breastfeeding" and Garland's "Beach Holiday" struggle to be more than prose, and Garland's has more than one cliché. Liz Berry and John Burnside were better represented.
I liked Niall Campbell's "The letter always arrives at its destination", Kevin Powers' "Great Plain", Hannah Lowe's "The Other Family", Marianne Morris' "Little Song War" and David Tait's "Puppets".
"In a restaurant" doesn't even seem good of its type. The ending of Jack Underwood's "Thank you for your email" makes it more obviously poetry (the mountain and burning bush not perhaps being real, but instead the state of mind produced by "the fearful and forgotten things I've lied to myself about, and to my friends, and to my family"), but I'm still not convinced. I didn't get Mir Mahfuz Ali's "Hurricane" or SJ Fowler's long-lined "Trepidation", Caoilinn Hughes' "Gathering Evidence", Ian McEwen's "Father Lost Lost", Hubert Moore's "Hosing Down", or Maggie Sullivan's "World Circular". I saw nothing new in Mary Woodward's "The White Valentine".
Martin Kratz' "The Man Who Walked Through Walls" was a refreshing change. Edward O'Dwyer's "Just by Chance" has 10 couplets, each containing the phrase "just by chance". Pascale Petit's poem ends with "Is this how God felt as He drew/ His colours across the void?" How should one assess the persona's mental state? It's unclear. Will they see angels next or little green men?
I didn't enjoy it as much as the earlier volumes I've read.