The Owen Prize for Poetry

I’ve read shockingly little poetry so far in my life although there was one poet who, as a schoolkid, I developed a real interest in — Wilfred Owen.

Accepting that lack of knowlege and despite my inability to pass any serious judgement on the quality or otherwise of poetry I have to say I share James Hamilton’s reaction to the news that The Wilfred Owen Association have given their Award for Poetry to Harold Pinter.

Here is the final section of Owen’s Spring Offensive:

So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; and soft sudden cups
Opened in thousands for their blood; and the green slopes
Chasmed and steepened sheer to infinite space.

Of them who running on that last high place
Leapt to swift unseen bullets, or went up
On the hot blast and fury of hell’s upsurge,
Or plunged and fell away past this world’s verge,
Some say God caught them even before they fell.

But what say such as from existence’ brink
Ventured but drave too swift to sink.
The few who rushed in the body to enter hell,
And there out-fiending all its fiends and flames
With superhuman inhumanities,
Long-famous glories, immemorial shames —
And crawling slowly back, have by degrees
Regained cool peaceful air in wonder —
Why speak they not of comrades that went under?

Here is Pinter’s American Football:

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.

We blew the shit right back up their own ass
And out their fucking ears.

It works.
We blew the shit out of them.
They suffocated in their own shit!

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew them into fucking shit.
They are eating it.

Praise the Lord for all good things.

We blew their balls into shards of dust,
Into shards of fucking dust.

We did it.

Now I want you to come over here and kiss me on the mouth.

As I said, I’m not going to attempt amateur literary criticism so I’ll just say something seems not quite right about Pinter being associated with Owen.

Update: Perhaps I am being unfair? American Football was, after all, an early venture into poetry and referred to the first Gulf War.

So here is one of Pinter’s writings from last year:


There’s no escape.
The big pricks are out.
They’ll fuck everything in sight.
Watch your back.