Posted: 12 January 2016
The Poetry Book Society is delighted to announce that this year's winner of the 2015 T S Eliot Prize is Sarah Howe for her debut collection Loop of Jade, an intimate exploration of her Anglo-Chinese heritage though her journeys to Hong Kong to discover her roots. This is the first time a debut collection has won the prize.
After months of reading and deliberation, Judges Pascale Petit (Chair), Kei Miller and Ahren Warner chose the winner from an exceptional shortlist which included four previous winners, one poet from the US, one from Jamaica, one from Australia, two Scots and two first collections.
Chair Pascale Petit said:
"In a year with an incredibly ambitious and diverse shortlist, it was difficult to choose the winner. However Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade shone with its startling exploration of gender and injustice through place and identity, its erudition, and powerful imagery as well as her daring experiment with form. She brings new possibilities to British poetry."
Born in Hong Kong in 1983 to an English father and Chinese mother, Sarah Howe moved to England as a child. Her pamphlet, A Certain Chinese Encyclopedia (Tall-lighthouse, 2009), won an Eric Gregory Award. Her poems have appeared in journals including Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry London, The Guardian and Poetry, as well as anthologies such as Ten: The New Wave and The Best British Poetry. She is the founding editor of Prac Crit. She recently served as one the judges for the UK's National Poetry Competition, and is currently a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute. Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus) is her debut collection. Sarah was the winner of the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award for 2015.
Pascale Petit formally announced that Sarah Howe was the winner at the T S Eliot Prize Award Ceremony in the V & A on Monday 11th January. The winner was presented with a cheque for £20,000 and each shortlisted poet received a cheque for £1,500 in recognition of their achievement in winning a place on the most prestigious shortlist in UK poetry. The Poetry Book Society would like to acknowledge Mrs Valerie Eliot's great generosity in providing the prize money since the inception of the Prize and are delighted that this support has been continued by the Trustees of the T S Eliot Estate, who are now the sole supporters of the Prize.
The award ceremony was preceded by the T S Eliot Prize Readings on Sunday 10th January, held in the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, and by the T S Eliot Prize Literary Lunch, the first UK literary lunch for poetry.
Last year's winner was David Harsent for his collection Fire Songs (Faber). The judges were Helen Dunmore (Chair), Sean Borodale and Fiona Sampson.