Three poets for 2014

by Simon Collings

Simon McBurney in a recent interview said there is really only one question to ask of theatre ‘is it alive?’ The same enquiry might be made of poetry. Here are three contemporary British poets whose work I’ve enjoyed reading recently who meet this test. Their subject matter differs greatly but all write with honesty and a lack of pretentious. These are wonderfully crafted poems, well observed, often involving an element of fantasy, frequently using humour.

Katherine Pierpoint was born in Northampton in 1961. Her poetry collection, Truffle Beds (1995), won a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. I love her descriptive poems about animals. ‘Buffalo Calf’ was shortlisted for a Forward Poetry prize in 2005.

Catherine Smith was born in Windsor in 1962. Her first poetry collection, The New Bride, (Smith/Doorstop) was short-listed for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, 2001. Her first full collection, The Butcher’s Hands (Smith/Doorstop) was short-listed for the Aldeburgh/Jerwood Prize and was a PBS Recommendation. Her third book, Lip, (Smith/Doorstop) was short-listed for the Forward Prize, 2008. Read her poem ‘The Fathers’ here:;jsessionid=4A7F7B5CC49578A97314D77923DC303D?poemId=13745

I also love ‘The Set of Optics You Wouldn’t Let Me Buy in Portabello Road Market, September 1984’ which appears in the anthology Identity Parade, Bloodaxe, 2010.

 Liz Berry was born in 1980 in the Black Country and now lives in Birmingham. Her debut pamphlet The Patron Saint of School Girls was published by tall-lighthouse in 2010. Her debut collection will be published by Chatto & Windus in 2014. You can read some of her poems here:  And more here:

 Three poets to enjoy in 2014 if you don’t already know their work.