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Beaconsfield poet thrilled at nomination for top literary award
FOR a poet, it can be notoriously difficult to prise open the door to success, recognition and fame.
A fiercely competitive publishing market flooded with chick lit, detective novels and steamy erotica has made it increasingly tough for verse collections to receive the sort of attention they once enjoyed.
But for Beaconsfield poet Claire Trevien, recognition has arrived with the release of her very first book after it was the only poetry collection nominated for a top literary award.
Released this year, Guardian readers have taken ‘The Shipwrecked House’ to their heart, after Claire’s work was named readers’ choice on the longlist for the newspaper’s First Book Award.
The 28-year-old grew up in northern France before moving aged 14 to Beaconsfield, where her parents still live.
And the poet, writer and academic, who achieved a PhD from the University of Warwick last year, was over the moon to represent the poetry community in this year’s Guardian First Book Award.
She said: "I love that it's a readers’ choice as it shoots down that tired notion that 'poetry is dead', which we hear every year.
“It was a little daunting at first, I felt this huge pressure to represent poetry as a whole, but I shouldn't have worried: everyone has been so supportive and excited to see poetry represented on the list.”
The Shipwrecked House is Claire’s first published book, after a pamphlet released in 2011 entitled ‘Low-Tide Lottery’, and has been described by critics as "playful and surreal".
The poems draw on her early years influences growing up by the sea in Brittany, and contain hard-hitting themes including domestic violence and her grandmother’s death.
But instead of a dark or macabre volume, Claire maintains the words evoke a more surreal and magical aesthetic, held together by the metaphor of the sea.
"As the title suggests, this is a collection that involves both the sea and domestic trauma," she said. "It's been compared to Angela Carter in the sense that it approaches big issues in a magically real way.
“The whole collection is also very playful with forms, one poem evaporates before your eyes, others build soundscapes, but I hope that the topics it discusses: bereavement, domestic violence, the Great British Bake Off; are also very relatable.”
Now based in Oxford, Claire was a prominent presence on the Beaconsfield literary scene for many years, becoming the area’s representative for the Poetry Society and hosting regular live recital events.
She was the subject of an author day at Beaconsfield Library last week and said she enjoys returning to the town where she emerged as a talented poet.
As well as the Guardian nomination, which just missed out on making the shortlist, Claire’s poem ‘The Shipwrecked House II’ was highly commended in the 2013 Forward Prize.
Beaconsfield has a brief but illustrious poetic heritage - it was the home of one of America's greatest poets, Robert Frost, a century ago. He lived in Reynolds Road for two years, arriving in 1912.
G.K Chesterton also called Beaconsfield home, with the celebrated poet, writer and novelist living and dying in the town.
And Beaconsfield’s literary heritage was cemented with the arrival of novelist Enid Blyton in 1938, with the Famous Five and Noddy author spending 30 prolific writing years in the town before her death in 1968.
The Shipwrecked House is published by Penned in the Margins and is available on Amazon or through the publisher www.pennedinthemargins.co.uk
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