Sinéad Morrissey has won the TS Eliot Prize for her collection, Parallax (Carcanet), finally winning the prize after being shortlisted four times.
Morrissey, who is Belfast's inaugural poet laureate, was previously shortlisted for the prize in 2002, 2005 and 2009.
Her collection was chosen by judges Ian Duhig, Imtiaz Dharker and Vicki Feaver. It beat books from fellow shortlisted poets Dannie Abse, Moniza Alvi, Anne Carson, Helen Mort, Daljit Nagra, Maurice Riordan, Robin Robertson, Michael Symmons Roberts and George Szirtes.
Each of the shortlisted poets wins £1,000, while Morrissey wins £15,000. The prize was presented this evening (13th January) at the Wallace Collection in London.
Morrissey was born in 1972 in County Armagh, Northern Ireland, and has written five collections, each published by Carcanet. Parallax was also nominated for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection. She is currently the reader in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre.
Duhig said: "In a year of brilliantly themed collections, the judges were unanimous in choosing Sinéad Morrissey’s Parallax as the winner. Politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests."
The first TS Eliot Prize was awarded in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday, and honour the society's founding poet. The prize money was provided by Eliot's widow, Valerie Eliot, and is now provided by the trustees of the TS Eliot estate. The prize is also supported by investment management firm Aurum.
From the winning collection, Parallax, published by Carcanet:
The night your sister was born in the living-room
you lay on your bed, upstairs, unwaking,
Cryptosporidium frothing and flourishing
through the ransacked terraces of your small intestine
so that, come morning, you, your bedding, me,
the midwife even, had to be stripped and washed.
Your father lifted you up like a torch
and carried you off to the hospital.
You came back days later, pale and feverish,
and visited us in the bedroom in your father’s arms.
You turned your head to take her in: this black-haired,
tiny, yellow person who’d happened while you slept.
And you were the white dot of the television, vanishing–
vanishing– just before the screen goes dark.