Poet wins Costa book award for tribute to late wife

Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:33pm EST
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By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - British writer Christopher Reid won the Costa Book of the Year award on Tuesday for a work of poetry about his wife's death.

"A Scattering" beat the favorite, Colm Toibin's "Brooklyn," leaving the Irish novelist disappointed once again after he failed to win the Booker Prize after being shortlisted twice.

Josephine Hart, chairman of the judging panel, said "A Scattering" was chosen from five nominated works by a big majority.

"We feel that what Christopher Reid did was to take a personal tragedy and to make its emotions...universal. It is bizarrely life-enhancing, because it speaks of the triumph of love before and after death," she told reporters.

Asked whether she shared the view held by some that the work was like witnessing someone's private grief, Hart replied: "The fact that it is personal does not in any way detract from its power...as long as it is kept under artistic control."

"A Scattering" consists of four poetic sequences, the first written during his wife Lucinda Gane's final illness and the other three at intervals after her death. She died in October 2005.


For booksellers and publishers, the fact that a work of poetry won one of the country's top literary awards may limit its commercial impact.   Continued...