Poet Jane Draycott‘s latest collection, Over (Carcanet Press), is a finalist for the T.S. Eliot Prize for the best collection of poetry published in England or Ireland in 2009. The winner will announced tomorrow, 17 January 2010. In the meantime we are happy to print the below poem, a finalist for the 2009 Troubador International Poetry Prize, judged by Maura Dooley and Jamie McKendrick. Draycott reads several of her poems for BBC’s coverage of the prize, and her extensive exploration of the relationship between poetry and radio makes these recordings particularly worthwhile.
Anyone who wanted to could leave, could gather
⠀⠀shivering on the south side of the river,
labelled and provided for with socks and sweaters
⠀⠀and a little cash. We walked across the water
in our thousands and left behind for ever
⠀⠀all that was great: the monuments and sewers,
cathedrals, theatres, mothers, lovers, brothers
⠀⠀as the flames licked at the city’s raging heart.
Faced with the prospect of living forever,
⠀⠀we headed for the country lanes together,
imagining the parties de campagne among the clover
⠀⠀and the stories each would tell the others
on the way. We had left behind for ever
⠀⠀all that we had loved. It was a start.