The poet talks about poetry, climate change and his work with composer Harrison Birtwistleby Sameer Rahim / January 23, 2015 / Leave a comment
Last week the poet David Harsent won the £20,000 TS Eliot Prize for his 11th collection Fire Songs. As well as being a poet, Harsent is also an opera librettist who has collaborated with the composer Harrison Birtwistle on works including Gawain and The Minotaur. He spoke to Prospect Books Editor Sameer Rahim about his early poetic influences and the importance of climate change—or the “heat death of the planet”—in his prize-winning book.
Sameer Rahim: Firstly, congratulations on winning the TS Eliot prize. It’s 50 years since Eliot’s death, and I was wondering how much he has influenced you?
David Harsent: I don’t think he was ever a direct influence but he certainly drew me to poetry when I was teenager. Reading The Waste Land certainly made me want to write poetry. I don’t think I ever wrote in imitation of Eliot, but he was a very important and influential figure.
SR: What about earlier poets?