Cape poets strong on T S Eliot shortlist

Cape poets strong on T S Eliot shortlist

Jonathan Cape has three poets shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize, which is to increase the winner’s award to £20,000 from 2015.

The prize money, previously £15,000, has been increased to mark the 50th anniversary of T S Eliot’s death on 4th January next year, and each of the shortlisted poets will receive £1,500.

Penguin Random House’s Jonathan Cape imprint has three shortlisted poets – John Burnside, for All One Breath, Michael Longley for The Stairwell, and Fiona Benson for Bright Travellers. Burnside and Longley are previous winners of the prize.

Also shortlisted is previous winner Hugo Williams, this time for his collection I Knew the Bride (Faber). Faber has a second shortlisting for David Harsent’s Fire Songs.

Poet Ruth Padel is shortlisted for Learning to Make an Oud in Nazareth (Chatto & Windus). Padel has previously spoken out about the post of poet laureate, and has this year been among the writers protesting against the ban on prisoners being sent books.

The other shortlisted poets are Louise Glück for Faithful and Virtuous Night (Carcanet), which was also shortlisted for this year’s Forward Prize for best collection; Pascale Petit for Fauverie from independent publisher Seren; Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers for Letter Composed During a Lull in Fighting (Sceptre); and Arundhathi Subramaniam for When God is a Traveller (Bloodaxe).

Chair of judges Helen Dunmore said: “After reading more than a hundred poetry collections the three judges for this year's T S Eliot Prize were delighted - and excited - by the quality of the work submitted. Our shortlist reflects the musicality, mastery and ambition of these ten chosen poets.  It's worth saying that while our discussions were searching, our decisions were in all cases unanimous. As one judge said when we surveyed the pile of shortlisted books at the end of our meeting: 'This is a box-set I'd love to have’.”

The other judges are poets Sean Borodale and Fiona Sampson.

From 2015 the prize will be solely sponsored by the T S Eliot Estate following the end of a three-year sponsorship deal with investment management firm Aurum.

The T S Eliot Prize Readings will take place on 11th January in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall and the winner will be announced at an award ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London on 12th January.

Last year’s winner was Sinéad Morrissey for her collection Parallax (Carcanet).