Literary Prize Fight: Novelists vs. Poets

By Julie PH Last edited 119 months ago
Literary Prize Fight: Novelists vs. Poets
Boxing match

Tough business being a writer. Our editors have promised us a 100 percent pay increase if we win a Bloggie in March, but even that won’t cover the cost of our pub outings. Still, if now’s the moment of truth, kids, when you choose prose or poetry as the more lucrative career path, note the following.

When A.L. Kennedy won the Costa Book of the Year award on Tuesday for her novel Day, she took home a total of £30,000, trumping poet Sean O’Brien’s last two awards combined, the £15,000 T.S. Eliot prize and the £10,000 Forward prize. No paltry sums to be sure, but compare these to the £100,000 Big Brother winners receive. And although a volume of poetry is considered for the overall Costa award, novels have prevailed over poetry twice as often. Furthermore, if you beat the odds and win a poetry award, you’re often greeted with comments like “pretentious twaddle”.

Poetry has an image problem, it seems. How to address this? Reinvigorate Big Brother with a new gimmick? Throw all the poets in a single house, require new poems each week, focus a camera on their computers and watch the magic happen? We submit a transcript of our own creative processes as a test case:

Londonist opens Word file, stares at screen. Eats a Cadbury egg. Inspired, types two sentences. Rewards self with Cadbury egg. Examines split ends. Horrified, searches web for potential hairstyles. Contemplates Katie Holmes’s recent cut. Photoshops Holmes’s hair onto picture of self five years younger, one stone lighter. Appalled at freakish results, closes browser immediately. Discovers Word document lurking underneath. Rereads. Disgusted, consoles self with Cadbury egg. Deletes entire file, heads to the pub. Vows to do better tomorrow.

Surely it’s all in the television editing, anyway? We’re not sure... And it’s just about time for the pub.

Image courtesy of alex w’s Flickr photostream

Last Updated 25 January 2008