Oswald withdraws from T S Eliot prize over investment sponsor

Oswald withdraws from T S Eliot prize over investment sponsor

Poet Alice Oswald has withdrawn her book Memorial (Faber) from the T S Eliot prize because of discomfort with its new sponsor, investment management company Aurum Funds.

Oswald had been on the shortlist for the prestigious poetry prize, for which the winner will be announced in January. The prize awards £15,000 to the winner and £1,000 to each of the shortlisted candidates, with the prize money funded by T S Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot and the T S Eliot estate.

The Poetry Book Society, which loses its Arts Council regularly funded status at the end of this financial year, announced in October that it had obtained "substantial" three-year sponsorship from Aurum Funds to support the award's management costs.

Oswald, whose book is a retelling of Homer's Iliad with echoes for our own war-torn times, said: "I’m uncomfortable about the fact that Aurum Funds, an investment company which exclusively manages funds of hedge funds, is sponsoring the administration of the Eliot Prize; I think poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions and for that reason I’m withdrawing from the Eliot shortlist."

Chris Holifield, director of the Poetry Book Society, said the PBS had decided not to comment on Oswald's decision. The other poets shortlisted for the award are John Burnside, poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Leontia Flynn, David Harsent, John Kinsella, Esther Morgan, Daljit Nagra, Sean O'Brien and Bernard O'Donoghue.

All will take part in the 2011 T S Eliot Prize Readings at the Royal Festival Hall on Sunday 15th January, ahead of the winner's announcement the following night.

This year's prize judges are Gillian Clarke, Stephen Knight and Dennis O'Driscoll.