First poet Alice Oswald withdrew her new book from the contest for the £15,000 award to be conferred with the T.S. Eliot prize administered by the Poetry Book Society, and now, the Guardian reports, Australian poet John Kinsella has joined her. Both poets have been short-listed for the prize, and Oswald is herself a former Eliot prize winner, so their withdrawal is something more than a mere gesture.
What is the cause that impels Oswald’s and Kinsella’s protest? Might it be the genteel anti-Semitism of the poet in whose name the prize is given? Of course not. Rather, it is the source of the beneficence that funds the award. The prize is the beneficiary of a newly-brokered sponsorship by investment management firm Aurum Funds. What’s wrong with Aurum Funds? Aurum is a specialized investment firm comprising a variety of hedge funds.
What’s wrong with hedge funds? Well, Kinsella is a rabid socialist. Moreover, he explained, “Hedge funds are at the very pointy end of capitalism, if I can put it that way.” Former prize winner Oswald observed that “poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions.” Better for the prize money to be laundered through the organs of the state after it is levied from the benighted taxpayers who prefer prose to poetry by the likes of Oswald and Kinsella.
Looking for a little background on Kinsella, we find that he is an Australian poet who describes himself as “a vegan anarchist pacifist of 16 years…a supporter of worldwide indigenous rights, and an absolute supporter of land rights.” Land rights, mind you, not property rights. Somehow it all makes sense.
Where is the author of The Dunciad when you really need him?