DAVID HARSENT, "A POET FOR DARK AND DANGEROUS DAYS", WINS 2014 T S ELIOT PRIZE
The Poetry Book Society is delighted to announce that the winner of the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry is David Harsent's Fire Songs, published by Faber and Faber.
This is Harsent's fifth appearance on the shortlist, following A Bird's Idea of Flight (1998), Marriage (2002), Legion (2005) and Night (2011), all published by Faber and Faber.
Judges Helen Dunmore (Chair), Sean Borodale and Fiona Sampson have chosen the winner from a strong shortlist after months of reading and deliberation.
Seven of the poets on this year's heavyweight shortlist have previously been in the running for the Prize, with three former winners (John Burnside, Michael Longley and Hugo Williams) joined by two debutants (Fiona Benson and Kevin Powers).
Chair Helen Dunmore said:
‘David Harsent is a poet for dark and dangerous days. Fire Songs plumbs language and emotion with technical brilliance and prophetic power.'
Read Helen's full speech from the prizegiving ceremony.
To mark the 50th anniversary of T S Eliot's death on 4 January 2015, the T S Eliot Estate has increased the value of the Prize named in his honour. From this year the winner will receive £20,000 and the ten shortlisted poets will each receive £1,500. The T S Eliot Estate has also extended its support to become sole sponsor of the Prize.
David Harsent has published eleven collections of poetry, including Legion (2005), which won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and Night (2011) - a Poetry Book Society Choice - which was shortlisted for the Costa, Forward and T S Eliot Prizes and won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. His collections A Bird's Idea of Flight and Marriage were PBS Choices in 1998 and 2002 respectively, and In Secret (2012), his English versions of poems by Yannis Ritsos, was a PBS Recommended Translation. He is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Helen Dunmore formally announced that David Harsent was the winner at the T S Eliot Prize Award Ceremony in the Courtyard of the Wallace Collection on Monday 12th 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.
The award ceremony was preceded by the T S Eliot Prize Readings on Sunday 11th January, held in the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall.