Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Poet Mick Imlah dies, aged 52
Sarah Crown writing in guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 January 2009

Mick Imlah Photograph: /PR

The poet Mick Imlah, whose volume of poetry, The Lost Leader, won the 2008 Forward prize for best collection and is shortlisted for tonight's TS Eliot prize, has died, aged 52.

The Lost Leader was only the second collection of poetry from Imlah, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease in December 2007.
His first volume, Birthmarks, was published in 1988 — a full 20 years earlier — to critical acclaim: reviewing it in the Times Literary Supplement, Neil Corcoran described him as "a poet of striking originality and cunning, a genuinely distinctive voice in the murmur and babble of the contemporary".

The poetry community had been impatient for a follow-up ever since, but Fleur Adcock, one of the judges of last year's Forward prize, saw the wait as worthwhile on the grounds that "so much richness had been building up all that time". Chair of the judges Frieda Hughes, meanwhile, called The Lost Leader "quite brilliant", praising it in exalted terms as "an astonishing city in which live the characters that he describes with humour, wit and an unerring eye".

Born in 1956 and raised near Glasgow, Imlah combined a highly successful, if spare, poetic output with a parallel career in literary journalism. He was editor of the prestigious Poetry Review from 1983 until 1986, and worked at the Times Literary Supplement from 1992, where he was poetry editor. In 2000, he edited the New Penguin Book of Scottish Verse with fellow poet Robert Crawford.
Imlah is survived by his partner and two daughters.

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