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TS Eliot winner David Harsent: “I wrote Fire Songs in a kind of fever”

The poet talks about poetry, climate change and his work with composer Harrison Birtwistle

By Sameer Rahim  
Woodcut of the burning of Anne Askew, for heresy, at Smithfield in 1546

Woodcut of the burning of Anne Askew, for heresy, at Smithfield in 1546 Credit: Robert Crowley

 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…

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