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HANNAH SULLIVAN WINS THE T S ELIOT PRIZE

Posted on January 15 2019

We’re delighted to announce that the TS Eliot Prize was awarded to Hannah Sullivan for her PBS Recommended debut Three Poems last night.

This is one of only three debuts to be awarded this prestigious prize in its 25 year history. The prize was awarded in The Wallace Collection in London following a spectacular evening of readings from all ten shortlisted poets at the Southbank Centre on Sunday evening.

Chair of the judges Sinéad Morrissey claimed: 

“Our relationship with her work only deepened on each subsequent rereading. It is not just the formal mastery, but how that formal mastery is so well-handled as to be almost invisible. That is the height of praise. You almost don’t notice the architecture underneath because you are so compelled by what is being said.”

“It is taking on perennial themes such as our mortality, our sexuality, our gender and our movement through time and place, and doing it in such a fresh and observant way. It is an absolutely exhilarating collection and it is all the more surprising that it is a debut.”

“There is such tremendous energy coming from people writing their first books right now. So many of the debuts were not only accomplished, but testing the boundaries of their fields. It is a really exciting moment for poetry, because it feels like publishers are taking more chances, and we’re now reading a more diverse and experimental field.”

Hannah Sullivan's debut collection is a revelation - three long poems of fresh ambition, intensity and substance. Though each poem stands apart, their inventive and looping encounters make for a compelling unity. 'You, Very Young in New York' captures a great American city, in all its alluring detail. It is a wry and tender study of romantic possibility, disappointment, and the obduracy of innocence. 'Repeat until Time' begins with a move to California and unfolds into an essay on repetition and returning home, at once personal and philosophical. 'The Sandpit after Rain' explores the birth of a child and the loss of a father with exacting clarity. In Three Poems, readers will experience Sullivan's work with the same exhilaration as they might the great modernising poems of Eliot and Pound, but with the unique perspective of a brilliant new female voice.

Hannah Sullivan lives in London and teaches modern English literature at New College, Oxford. After reading Classics as an undergraduate, she received a PhD in English from Harvard in 2008 and taught at Stanford University in California for three years. Her first published poem appeared in P. N. Review in 1998 and so this debut has had a long genesis. Her academic book The Work of Revision was, in fact, a study of the complicated and indirect ways in which writers draft and revise. She is currently writing a book on free verse, funded by a Philip Leverhulme Prize.

PBS Members can order their copies of Three Poems here with 25% discount. You can also listen to a recording of the evening’s T S Eliot readings on Radio 3’s The Verb or an interview with the winning poet on Radio 4’s Front Row. 

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