Posted: 17 January 2012
The Poetry Book Society is delighted to announce that John Burnside has won the 2011 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry with Black Cat Bone, published by Jonathan Cape.
The Judges of this year's prize - Gillian Clarke (Chair), Stephen Knight and Dennis O'Driscoll - reached their decision after months of reading and deliberation.
The winner was chosen from a field of eight highly-regarded poets, who include the Poet Laureate. The star-studded shortlist for this year's Prize has between them won fourteen poetry prizes but only two have previously won the T S Eliot Prize.
Gillian Clarke, Chair of the judges, said:
Amongst an unprecedentedly strong and unusually well-received shortlist, John Burnside's Black Cat Bone is a haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness. In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading.
John Burnside has achieved wide critical acclaim as a poet and novelist, winning the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2000 for The Asylum Dance which was also shortlisted for the Forward and T S Eliot prizes. Born in Scotland, he moved away in 1965, returning to settle there in 1995. In the intervening period he worked as a factory hand, a labourer, a gardener and, for ten years, as a computer systems designer. His poetry collections include The Good Neighbour (2005) and Selected Poems (Jonathan Cape, 2006). He is a former writer in Residence at Dundee University and now teaches at the University of St Andrews. Black Cat Bone (Jonathan Cape) is his eleventh book of poetry and won the 2011 Forward Prize for the best collection.
Gillian Clarke formally announced the winner at the T S Eliot Prize Award Ceremony at the Haberdashers' Hall on Monday 16th January. The winner was presented with a cheque for £15,000 and each shortlisted poet received a cheque for £1,000 in recognition of their achievement in winning a place on the most prestigious shortlist in UK poetry. The Poetry Book Society would like to thank Mrs Valerie Eliot for her generosity in providing the prize money since the inception of the Prize.
The award ceremony was preceded by the T S Eliot Prize Readings on Sunday 15th January, held in the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall.
This year marks the first year of generous new three-year support from Aurum, a private investment management firm which manages funds for charities, pension funds, sovereign wealth funds and private individuals, and which supports a range of charities.
The T S Eliot Prize is also generously supported by the T S Eliot Estate.