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T. S. Eliot Prize 2021 – Shortlist Announced

Last evening the T. S. Eliot Prize 2021 – Shortlist was announced.

It shows an eclectic mixture of established poets, none of whom has previously won the Prize, and relative newcomers.

Judges Glyn Maxwell (Chair), Caroline Bird and Zaffar Kunial have chosen the 2021 T. S. Eliot Prize shortlist from a record 177 poetry collections submitted by British and Irish publishers.

The list comprises one debut collection; work from six men and four women; one American; one poet from Ireland; as well as poets of mixed race ancestry, including Jamaican, Jamaican-Chinese and Zambian. Eight publishers are represented, with two titles from small presses.

 

Here are the ten poets who have been shortlisted by the judges:

Raymond Antrobus – All the Names Given (Picador)
Raymond Antrobus is the author of To Sweeten Bitter and The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins/Tin House) and All the Names Given (Picador 2021). In 2019 he became the first ever poet to be awarded the Rathbone Folio Prize. Other accolades include the Ted Hughes Award, PBS Winter Choice and Sunday Times Young Writer of the year award, as well as being shortlisted for the Griffin Prize and Forward Prize.

Kayo Chingonyi – A Blood Condition (Chatto & Windus)
Kayo Chingonyi is the author of two pamphlets. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, (Chatto & Windus 2012) won the Dylan Thomas Prize and a Somerset Maugham Award and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize and the Seamus Heaney Centre First Poetry Collection Prize. His most recent collection is A Blood Condition (Chatto & Windus 2021).

Victoria Kennefick – Eat Or We Both Starve (Carcanet)
Victoria Kennefick’s pamphlet, White Whale (Southword Editions, 2015), won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times, Ambit and elsewhere. Her debut collection Eat Or We Both Starve was published by Carcanet in 2021.

Selima Hill – Men Who Feed Pigeons (Bloodaxe)
Selima Hill is a prodigiously prolific poet, who has produced nineteen books of poetry, all published by Bloodaxe. Her 1997 collection, Violet, was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award. Bunny (2001), won the Whitbread Poetry Award, was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Her new collection is Men Who Feed Pigeons (Bloodaxe 2021).

Hannah Lowe – The Kids (Bloodaxe)
Hannah Lowe’s first poetry collection Chick (Bloodaxe 2013) won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best First Collection, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize for Poetry, and was selected for the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation Poets 2014 promotion. Her second collection was Chan and her third collection, The Kids, (Bloodaxe 2021) was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

Michael Symmons Roberts – Ransom (Cape Poetry)
Michael Symmons Roberts’s eight poetry collections have all been published by Cape and include Corpus, which was the winner of the 2004 Whitbread Poetry Award, and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize and the Griffin International Prize. Drysalter was the winner of the 2013 Forward Prize and the Costa Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. His eighth poetry collection is Ransom (Cape Poetry, 2021).

Daniel Sluman – single window (Nine Arches Press)
Daniel Sluman co-edited the first major UK Disability poetry anthology, Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back, (2017) with Sandra Alland and Khairani Barokka. He has previously published two poetry collections, Absence has a weight of its own (2012) and the terrible (2015), both Nine Arches Press. His third poetry collection, single window, was published in 2021 by Nine Arches Press.

Joelle Taylor – C+nto & Othered Poems (The Westbourne Press)
Joelle Taylor has published four collections of poetry: Ska Tissue (2011, Mother Foucault Press), The Woman Who Was Not There (2014, Burning Eye Books) and Songs My Enemy Taught Me (2017, Out-Spoken Press). She founded SLAMbassadors for the Poetry Society in 2001 and is the host of London’s premier night of poetry and music Out-Spoken. C+not & Othered Poems was published in 2021 by The Westbourne Press.

Jack Underwood – A Year in the New Life (Faber)
Jack Underwood was a winner of the Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and his debut pamphlet was published by Faber as part of the first Faber New Poets series in 2009. His debut poetry collection, Happiness (Faber, 2015), won the Somerset Maugham Award. He is a senior lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His second collection, A Year in the New Life, was published by Faber in 2021.

Kevin Young – Stones (Cape Poetry)
Kevin Young is the author of fifteen books of poetry and prose, including Brown; Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015; Book of Hours, Jelly Roll: a blues, Bunk and The Grey Album. He is the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture and the poetry editor of the New Yorker. Stones (Cape 2021) is the first of his poetry collections to be published in the UK.

 

The T. S. Eliot Prize is run by the T. S. Eliot Foundation. The T. S. Eliot Prize is the most valuable prize in British poetry – the winning poet will receive a cheque for £25,000 and the shortlisted poets will be presented with cheques for £1,500. It is the only major poetry prize which is judged purely by established poets. The 2021 judging panel are looking for the best new poetry collection written in English and published in 2021 in the UK or Ireland.

Chair Glyn Maxwell said:
‘Judging the T. S. Eliot Prize 2021, I am lucky enough to be joined by two of my favourite younger poets, Caroline Bird and Zaffar Kunial. We are delighted with our shortlist, while lamenting all the fine work we had to set aside. Poetry styles are as disparate as I’ve ever known them, and the wider world as threatened and bewildered as any of us can remember. Out of this we have chosen ten books that sound clear and compelling voices – of the moment, yet also below and beyond it. Older and younger, wiser and wilder, well-known and lesser-known, these are the ten voices we think should enter the stage and be heard in the spotlight, changing the story while there’s a story to be changed.’

The T. S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings will take place on Sunday 9th January 2022 in the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall in London as part of its literature programme. The shortlist readings are the largest annual poetry event in the UK and will be hosted once again by Ian McMillan.

Tickets for the Readings in the Royal Festival and the simultaneously streamed event are now on sale from the box office: 0203 879 9555 (Open from 10am – 2pm Monday to Friday). Website: www.southbankcentre.co.uk

The winner of the 2021 Prize will be announced at the Award Ceremony on Monday 10th January 2022, where the winner and the shortlisted poets will be presented with their cheques.

Last year’s winner was Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart and the judges were Lavinia Greenlaw (chair), Mona Arshi and Andrew McMillan.

The T. S. Eliot Prize, which former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion has described as “the Prize most poets want to win”, is an annual prize for the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland.

T. S. Eliot Prize 2021 – Shortlist Announced
# For more information click for the T S Eliot Prize website

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