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Posted: 17 June 2011

The Poetry Book Society is delighted to announce the judges for the 2011 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry. Gillian Clarke will be Chair of the judges and the other two members of the panel will be poets Stephen Knight and Dennis O'Driscoll.

The judges will meet in October to decide on the ten-book shortlist. The four Poetry Book Society Choices from 2011 are automatically shortlisted for the Prize. The Spring 2011 Choice was Night by David Harsent (Faber) and the Summer Choice was November by Sean O'Brien (Picador). They will be joined on the shortlist by the PBS Autumn Choice, Profit and Loss by Leontia Flynn (Jonathan Cape), and the Winter Choice, which will be announced in August.

The T S Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings will take place on Sunday 15 January 2012 in the Royal Festival Hall. The 2010 Readings were held in this new venue for the first time and were a great artistic and audience-building success, attracting 2,000 poetry lovers, one of the biggest audiences for a single poetry event of recent times. The winner of the 2011 Prize will be announced at the award ceremony on Monday 16 January 2012, when Mrs Valerie Eliot will present the winner with a cheque for £15,000. The shortlisted poets will each receive £1,000.

The T S Eliot Prize Reading Groups scheme will enable reading groups and individual readers to read the shortlist. Specially commissioned reading group notes, together with three poems from each shortlisted collection, will be made available to download from the PBS website. The scheme will target both poetry reading groups and fiction book groups.

The T S Eliot Prize Shadowing Scheme, run by the Poetry Book Society in partnership with the English and Media Centre's emagazine, will offer A level students a chance to engage with the latest new poetry by shadowing the judges.

Last year's winner was Derek Walcott, for his collection White Egrets (Faber). The judges were Anne Stevenson (Chair), Bernardine Evaristo and Michael Symmons Roberts.

The T S Eliot Prize was inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday, and to honour its founding poet. Now in its nineteenth year, the T S Eliot Prize is the ‘world's top poetry award' (Louise Jury, The Irish Independent). The Prize is awarded annually to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland. It is unique as it is always judged by a panel of established poets and it has been described by Sir Andrew Motion as ‘the Prize most poets want to win'.

Previous winners (in chronological order) are: Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon, Mark Doty, Les Murray, Don Paterson, Ted Hughes, Hugo Williams, Michael Longley, Anne Carson, Alice Oswald, Don Paterson (for the second time), George Szirtes, Carol Ann Duffy, Seamus Heaney, Sean O'Brien, Jen Hadfield, Philip Gross and Derek Walcott.

The Prize is supported by the T S Eliot Estate.

Judges' Biographies

Gillian Clarke

Gillian Clarke was born in Cardiff, and now lives with her family on a smallholding in Ceredigion. Her collections of poetry including Letter From a Far Country (1982); Letting in the Rumour (1989); The King of Britain's Daughter (1993); and Five Fields (1998), all published by Carcanet. The last three collections were all Poetry Book Society Recommendations. She has also written for stage, television and radio, several radio plays and poems being broadcast by the BBC. Gillian Clarke's most recent poetry collection is A Recipe for Water (Carcanet 2009). In 2008 she published a book of prose, including a journal of the writer's year, entitled At The Source, and was named as Wales' National Poet. In 2010 she was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.

Stephen Knight

Stephen Knight was born in Swansea in 1960, and lives in London. He has worked extensively as a Creative Writing tutor in schools, colleges, and for the University of Glamorgan and Goldsmiths College, University of London. In 1987 he received an Eric Gregory Award and in 1992 won first prize in the National Poetry Competition. He is the author of three main poetry collections: Flowering Limbs (Bloodaxe 1993), a Poetry Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the T S Eliot Prize; Dream City Cinema (Bloodaxe 1996), also shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize; and, for teenagers, Sardines and Other Poems (Young Picador 2004), shortlisted for the CLPE Poetry Award in 2005. He has also published a novel, Mr Schnitzel (Viking 2000), which won the Arts Council of Wales Book of the Year in 2001. His fiction and poetry reviews appear in the Times Literary Supplement and the Independent on Sunday.

Dennis O'Driscoll

Dennis O'Driscoll was born in Tipperary. His eight books of poetry include Exemplary Damages (2002), New and Selected Poems (2004), a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation, and Reality Check (2007), shortlisted for the Irish Times / Poetry Now Prize 2008 (all Anvil Press). A selection of his essays and reviews, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (Gallery Press), was published in 2001. His book, Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (Faber and Faber), published in 2008, was shortlisted for ‘Book of the Decade' in the Irish Book Awards 2010. He edited The Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations (2006). His awards include a Lannan Literary Award, the E M Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Argosy Irish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature by University College, Dublin in 2009.

Categories: Poetry Prizes

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