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Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. Her 2017 collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. A two-time winner of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her first collection Looking Through Letterboxes was published in 2002 when she was 15. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010. She was shortlisted for Most Promising New Playwright at the Off-West-End Awards, and was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her theatre credits include: The Trojan Women (Gate Theatre, 2012), The Trial of Dennis the Menace (Purcell Room, 2012), Chamber Piece (Lyric Hammersmith, 2013), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Northern Stage, 2015), and The Iphigenia Quartet (Gate Theatre, 2016). She was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics. Her sixth Carcanet collection, The Air Year, will be published in February 2020.
'Full of surprises at every turn, The Air Year demonstrates Bird's intuitive grasp of language, her fascination with hidden selves, mental health and the possibility of healing. These poems attest to her ability to fuse a distinctive voice with surreal, dramatised narrative that straddles reality and imagination.''Although the collection was published last February...we will likely turn to it in the future when seeking words for the stagnation and embattled optimism of 2020 as a whole.'
Jennifer Wong, Magma
Mary Anne Clark, Times Literary Supplement
'It is one of the most generous and open-hearted books of the year.'
Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian Best Poetry Books of 2020
'The Air Year impressively distills existential truths into its rollicking lines... Bird's writing is both ambitiously expansive and intimate as a heartbeat.'
Khairani Barokka, Under the Radar
'All shiny and exciting... Many of Bird's speakers are in a free-fall of existential despair... searching for a moment of happiness that feels uncomplicated, and can last'
Jenna Clake, Poetry London
'Bird's poetry is undeniably funny [...] Readers will fall in love with [the] writing for her fresh and strange imagery.'
Oxford Poetry Library, where Bird's collection was Book of the Month for September 2020
'As a reader, The Air Year gives me hope that maybe we can write and read our way out of whatever mess is splashed in our faces as we float around this increasingly weird world - as impossible as that seems.
There is no doubt about how prescient The Air Year is - even the title could act as a sobriquet for the pandemic. So, we are left with everything up in the air and, as we sit tight in our homes, we're all just hoping that, if we ever land, there'll be something worth landing on.'
Peter Raynard, The Poetry School
'The Air Year is surreal and satirical but beneath all this levity, lies a candid vulnerability.''Her phrasemaking is sublime... it's superb'
PBS Spring 2020 Bulletin
Tristram Fane Saunders, February Telegraph Book of the Month 2020
'Caroline Bird is a poet like no other, always prepared to shower us in meteors of linguistic playfulness, in a frightening game of hide and seek. We don't always need to understand every explosion of emotion to feel the power and passion. These poems are screenshots, epic movies, ground-breaking nuggets of prose, and something else we can't even find words for. The Air Year is a fantastic, intimate, disturbing and beautiful tour de force.'
Pat Edwards, London Grip
'Caroline Bird's is an unquestionably vigorous and original voice'
Suzannah V. Evans, The TLS
'Bird is a master of bleak humour interlaced with wry social commentary.'
'Caroline Bird's In These Days of Prohibition is equally pleasurable and disturbing, because it understands the genuinely strange ground on which we must build our thoughts and our emotions. In work of great and frequently comic poise it captures moments of absolute loss of control, and absolute freedom. We recognise that sustained unsettling comic virtuosity is the startling agent by which we engage with such loss, such freedom.'
- W.N Herbert (Chair of the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize Judging Panel) 'Achieves serious funniness by filtering mental illness and addiction through the prism of pop-surrealism.'
Jeremy Noel-Tod, The Sunday Times
'Since she published her debut aged 15 in 2002, Bird's witty writing has been wrongly dismissed in some quarters as lightweight. This brave eighth collection (a slant account of her year in rehab) proves those critics wrong from its first page.'
Tristram Fane Saunders, The Daily Telegraph
'The poems in this, Bird's fifth collection, explode on the page, bristling with a vision of sanity within madness, order within chaos. She has the ability to describe a tortured soul in a twenty-first century manner, bringing humour, contemporary idiom and irony into the work.'
Dundee University Review of the Arts
'The poems of In These Days of Prohibition are disquieting: institutionalised, hedonistic, vacuous and nihilistic. The collection takes a hard look at contemporary society but is, ultimately, uplifting. If Brett Easton Ellis wrote poems, I'd like to think they'd be poems like these.'
John Field in the 2017 T.S. Eliot Prize shorlist newsletter
'Her poems burst with linguistic energy.'
Stephen Knight, Times Literary Supplement 'An astonishingly assured piece of work.'
Ruth Padel, Financial Times 'What an original captivating and spellbinding voice. Bird is fearless like 'the girl who dropped her ice-cream down a volcano and leaped in after it'. She's dangerous and witty too with a rare quality of imagination. This is a wonder, a beautifully written book of poems.'
'A carnival of characters spills out of these poems, chased by paparazzi, doing somersaults and cartwheels with language... Caroline Bird puts us on the inside looking deeper in, under the glittering skin to the place where laughter begins, where mothers are children, where people feel pain and speak in tongues, where tongues are knives and "Someone still has to stay here and die".'
Imtiaz Dharker 'Caroline Bird has always written wise, bitterly funny and intellectually bracing poems.What has developed over the course of four collections is a voice heartbreaking in vision while simultaneously consoling in its constant and inspired invention.'
Luke Kennard 'Bird is irrepressible; she simply explodes with poetry. The work erupts, spring-loaded, funny, sad, deadly - you don't know if a bullet will come out of the barrel or a flag with the word BANG on it.'
Simon Armitage 'Her poems burst with linguistic energy, and the book is profligate with striking lines and images.'
Times Literary Supplement
'The tone fuses knowing innocence and integrity; some poems are faux naif with a ballad lilt, others are sad, funny surreal; all are studded with fresh imaginative insights.'
Ruth Padel, Financial Times
Awards won by Caroline Bird Short-listed, 2021 The Polari Book Prize
(The Air Year) Winner, 2020 The Forward Prize for Best Collection (The Air Year) Short-listed, 2020 Costa Poetry Award
(The Air Year) Short-listed, 2017 The Ted Hughes Award for New Poetry (In These Days of Prohibition) Short-listed, 2017 The T.S. Eliot Prize (In These Days of Prohibition) Commended, 2004 Christopher Tower Poetry Prize Winner, 2000 Simon Elvin Young Poet of the Year Award Winner, 1999 Simon Elvin Young Poet of the Year Award Winner, 2002 Eric Gregory Award Winner, 2004 Peterloo Poets Competition (16-19 year-olds) Winner, 2003 Peterloo Poets Competition (16-19 year-olds) Winner, 2002 Peterloo Poets Competition (16-19 year-olds) Short-listed, 2001 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize Short-listed, 2008 Dylan Thomas Prize for young writers
The Carcanet Blog Winter Recipes from the Collective: Louise Glck read more 100 Days: Gabriel Josipovici read more Stop the clock: 50 Years of Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange read more PN Review 261: Editorial read more Cordially Yours: Tristram Fane Saunders on Edna St Vincent Millay read more the clarity of distant things: Jane Duran read more
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