Bly Passes Away/Costa Book Award Shortlist – Poetry News Roundup November 24th

Today’s poetry news round up looks at the poet Robert Bly who has died aged 94 and the shortlist for this years Costa Book Award.

Robert Bly, Award Winning Poet, Dies at Age of 94

The poet and writer Robert Bly died on Sunday at the age of 94. He was surrounded by his entire family when he passed away and had been suffering with dementia for the last 14 years.

Bly spent 2 years in the US navy during the 1940s following which he went on to become a prodigious writer of prose, poet and translations. He as vehemently opposed to the Vietnam war and his most famous work “Iron john” is a what he referred to as a manifesto for the “expressive men’s movement.”

He was a winner of the National Book Award and also the poetry Society of America’s Frost medal – named after the poet Robert Frost, amongst a number of other significant awards.

He was not always drawn to the idea of writing poetry. However, he has always attributed his decision to write poetry for the rest of his life with the study of a poem by WB Yeats. His studies made him realise that one single poem had room for music, religious thought, mood, history and even the opportunity to revisit events that happened in a person’s own life.

During the 1960s he became an opponent to the war in Vietnam and even donated the prize money that he got in 1968 from his win at the National Book Awards. The money went to help the efforts that were in place to resist the draft.

In addition to his poetry, Bly spent much of his time working as a translator. He translated works by a number of well-known poets including Pablo Neruda, Rumi, Mirza Ghalib, Hafez, and Antonio Machado – he had a particular fondness for the Persian and Spanish poets.

Bly was married to the writer Carol Mclean with whom he had four children. He is survived by his second wife who he married in 1980, his four children, a stepdaughter and nine grandchildren.

Bumper Year for Costa Book Award Entries

The shortlist for the 2021 Costa Book Awards has been announced and includes the poet Raymond Antrobus, Elif Shafak and Kayo Chingonyi together with eight debut writers. The award has seen a record level of entries this year, 943 in total, and the shortlist is dominated by books published by Viking, in fact 25% of the books on the shortlist belong to Viking.

The award is open to those writers living in Ireland and the UK. There are a total of 20 award spread over five different categories. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the award.

The poetry list includes two poets who have a background in education Hannah Lowe with “The Kids” which draws on her experiences of a decade spent teaching in a sixth form in inner London, and Raymond Antrobus for “All the Names Given” which is his second book. His first book won the Ted Hughes Poetry Award in 2019.

The winners will be announced on January 4th, 2022, with the overall winner of the Costa book of the Year being announced on February 1st, 2022. The winner of this second award is selected from the winners of the 5 categories.

You must register to comment. Log in or Register.