Bright Travellers (Jonathan Cape) by Fiona Benson and Black Country (Chatto & Windus) by Liz Berry have been announced as the joint winners of the 2014 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.
The prize was set up in memory of Geoffrey Faber, the founder and first chairman of Faber, and is awarded to poetry and prose in alternate years. To win, the work has to be first published during the two years preceding the year in which the award is given. This year's prize sees Benson and Berry win the £1,500 prize money.
The judges for this year's award were Julia Copus, Ruth Padel and Max Porter.
"Fiona Benson’s poems have piercingly vivid contemporary lyrics: the violence and loss work hiddenly, a dark echo chamber behind tenderly controlled lines that radiate a classic, but always original, grace," the judges said. “Liz Berry’s language and forms are daring, exhilarating, wholly original. Her poems toss their head and gallop off into new territory in a beautiful and gutsy evocation of the places (in several senses) of childhood, dark sexual awakenings, enchanted union, and the miracle of the here and now.”
The judges added: “Both are debut collections which have won other awards. The fascinatingly different ways in which their language and vision shine reflect the astonishing quality and variety of poetry written today – especially, we are delighted to report, by women.”
Bright Travellers is Benson’s first full-length collection which has won the Seamus Heaney Prize for a first collection and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Berry’s debut collection, Black Country, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014.
Last year’s winner was Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half Formed Thing (Galley Beggar Press).