LONDON (AP) — Poet Jo Shapcott has won Britain's lucrative Costa Book Award for "On Mutability," a collection that draws on her experience with breast cancer.
Shapcott said she was shocked to take the 30,000-pound ($48,000) prize, more often won by novelists.
She said late Tuesday the book was "a series of meditations on mortality, some of which are terribly cheerful, in fact ecstatic."
The Costa prizes are awarded in five categories, with one chosen as the overall winner. The award is open to writers based in Britain and Ireland.
Hairless, by Jo Shapcott
Can the bald lie? The nature of the skin says not:
it's newborn-pale, erection-tender stuff,
every thought visible - pure knowledge,
mind in action - shining through the skull.
I saw a woman, hairless absolute, cleaning.
She mopped the green floor, dusted bookshelves,
all cloth and concentration, Queen of the moon.
You can tell, with the bald, that the air
speaks to them differently, touches their heads
with exquisite expression. As she danced
her laundry dance with the motes, everything
she ever knew skittered under her scalp.
It was clear just from the texture of her head,
she was about to raise her arms to the sky;
I covered my ears as she prepared to sing, to roar.
Procedure, by Jo Shapcott
This tea, this cup of tea, made of leaves,
made of the leaves of herbs and absolute
almond blossom, this tea, is the interpreter
of almond, liquid touchstone which lets us
scent its true taste at last and with a bump
in my case, takes me back to the yellow time
of trouble with bloodtests, and cellular
madness, and my presence required
on the slab for surgery, and all that mess
I don't want to comb through here because
it seems, honestly, a trifle now that steam
and scent and strength and steep and infusion
say thank you thank you thank you for the then, and now