Forward prize winner Vahni Capildeo shortlisted for TS Eliot poetry award

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The Trinidadian writer joins Alice Oswald, Ian Duhig and Denise Riley among the final 10 vying for the UK’s richest poetry prize, Alison Flood reports for London’s Guardian. Our thanks to Robert Lee for bringing this news item to our attention.

After landing the £15,000 Forward prize for best collection in September, the Trinidadian poet Vahni Capildeo is in the running for the UK’s richest award for poetry, the £20,000 TS Eliot award.

Measures of Expatriation, which explores identity and the alienation of the expatriate, is one of 10 collections in the running for the prize. It is up against collections from Alice Oswald, Ian Duhig and Denise Riley, all of which also appeared on the Forward shortlist. Oswald’s Falling Awake examines mutability; Duhig’s The Blind Road draws from both Sterne’s Tristram Shandy and the life of the 18th-century polymath Blind Jack Metcalf; and Riley’s Say Something Backrevolves around her late son and includes her long poem about grieving and loss, A Part Song.

Publishers submitted 138 books for the prize. Judges and poets Ruth Padel, Julia Copus and Alan Gillis narrowed them down to a final 10, which also includes Scottish poet JO Morgan, chosen for Interference Pattern, a collection described as a “bracing, original, disruptive book” in the Guardian. Rachael Boast makes the TS Eliot shortlist for Void Studies, the realisation of a project proposed by Rimbaud; Bernard O’Donoghue for The Seasons of Cullen Church, about his childhood in Co Cork; and Katharine Towers for her second collection, The Remedies.

The shortlist is completed by Jacob Polley’s Jackself, a fictionalised autobiography told through the many “Jacks” of legend and folktale, and Ruby Robinson’s debut Every Little Sound.

Padel, who chaired the judging panel, said the judges had been “blown away by the brilliance and freshness of the entries … We were looking for musicality, originality, energy and craft, and we believe the shortlist reflects this in a wonderful range of important and lasting voices.”

Although the shortlist features only two contributions from small presses – Capildeo’s collection, published by Carcanet, and Robinson’s, published by Liverpool University Press – Padel said the judges “applaud the contribution of new and independent poetry publishers”.

“There were,” she said, “many more outstanding books from small presses than we were able to accommodate in our final shortlist: it is clear that such publishers are radically altering the landscape of contemporary poetry.”

The winner will be announced on 16 January. The TS Eliot prize has been running since 1993, and has been won in the past by Oswald, Derek Walcott, Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy.

The 2016 TS Eliot prize shortlist

Void Studies by Rachael Boast (Picador)
Measures of Expatriation by Vahni Capildeo (Carcanet)
The Blind Road-Maker by Ian Duhig (Picador)
Interference Pattern by JO Morgan (Cape Poetry)
The Seasons of Cullen Church by Bernard O’Donoghue (Faber)
Falling Awake by Alice Oswald (Cape Poetry)
Jackself by Jacob Polley (Picador)
Say Something Back by Denise Riley (Picador)
Every Little Sound by Ruby Robinson (Liverpool University Press)
The Remedies by Katharine Towers (Picador)

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