Ted Hughes award goes to Andrew Motion's 'Coming Home'
The former poet laureate, Sir Andrew Motion, has won the Ted Hughes award for new work in poetry for his series of poems based on interviews with soldiers in Afghanistan. Coming Home is a series of poems that Motion wrote about the last (or almost the last) British soldiers to leave Afghanistan. He spent time at the British army camp in Bad Fallingbostel, in northern Germany, interviewing soldiers, then wrote poems based on transcripts of the conversations they shared - and, in one further case, with the London-based mother of a British soldier who had been killed in the fighting. Coming Home was originally aired on Radio 4, and produced by Melissa Fitzgerald.
Judges Grayson Perry, Julia Copus and Kei Miller praised Coming Home, a poetic reimagining and radio performance of shared conversations centred on the effect of conflict, for its “innovative and deeply moving” poetry.
Copus said: "We loved the way in which the listener is invited in to the writing process: first we eavesdrop on conversations with the soldiers, and then we witness the poems hatching from those conversations. The author has gone to some lengths to absent himself from the lines, and claims to have changed very little to produce what he calls 'a rapid fire kind of poetry', but don’t be fooled: Motion’s skilful shaping and alterations have resulted in a subtle and magical transformation. All the time we are aware of a gap between the interviewees’ words and the sorrow that lies behind them. It’s this gap that Andrew Motion exploits to make an accessible, innovative and deeply moving poetry.”
Here is an extract from Coming Home.
Also on the shortlist were Patience Agbabi for Telling Tales; Imtiaz Dharker for Over the Moon; Carrie Etter for Imagined Sons; and Alice Oswald for Tithonus.