Thursday, 10 December 2009

Kate Clanchy: The Not-dead and the Saved


Congratulations to Kate Clanchy who has just won the BBC Short Story award with a story called 'The Not-dead and the Saved'. It's a wonderful piece of writing. Some critics have expressed surprise that a Poet should have won, but the crafting of the short story has more to do with poetry than prose.
Margaret Drabble - one of the judges - has written a very good article about the award. 'Critics wisely shy away from trying to define the short story. We know one when we read one, and we recognise the names of the writers of the past — Chekhov, Isaac Babel, de Maupassant, Henry James. But the form remains elusive and unpredictable. It’s not just an apprenticeship for longer work, though it has served as that. It’s a genre complete in itself, and some of the great stories have the economy and concentration of poetry. Some are interior monologues, some evoke one moment in a relationship, some suggest a huge backdrop of un-narrated events, some depend on a devastating punch line.......Short stories aren’t just very short novels'
She adds that 'the winning story was outstanding, one of the finest I have read'. Apparently the judges verdict was unanimous.
I love Kate Clanchy's poetry - I'd like to share one from her first collection, 'Slattern', [a poem now in the public domain].
Poem for a Man with No Sense of Smell

This is simply to inform you:
that the thickest line in the kink of my hand
smells like the feel of an old school desk,
the deep carved names worn sleek with sweat;

that beneath the spray of my expensive scent
my armpits sound a bass note strong
as the boom of a palm on a kettle drum;

that the wet flush of my fear is sharp
as the taste of an iron pipe, midwinter,
on a child's hot tongue; and that sometimes,

in a breeze, the delicate hairs on the nape
of my neck, just where you might bend
your head, might hesitate and brush your lips,

hold a scent frail and precise as a fleet
of tiny origami ships, just setting out to sea.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Kathleen,
    Thank you for your kind words recently.

    Well done Kate!

    I have to agree about short stories having little to do with novels.

    I love playing with words, yet writing poetry is almost a complete mystery to me.
    I can often knock out an outline to a 100,000+ word novel in the blink of an eye and then find the greatest pleasure as the characters tell me how to paint in all the nooks and crannies. But ask me to write a page (or five) and I sit staring at the page without inspiration.

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  2. You're obviously a born novelist Al! I wish I had your facility.
    best
    Kathleen

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  3. I have to agree about short stories having little to do with novels.

    Work from home India

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