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T S Eliot Prize winner 2008


The winner of the 2008 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry

The winner of ‘the world’s top poetry award’ (Irish Independent) has just been announced. Described as ‘the prize most poets want to win’ (Andrew MotionEnglish poet, novelist and biographer; Poet Laureate of United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009; during his laureateship founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio recordings of poets reading their own work, Poet Laureate)  the prize is awarded by the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at to the author of the best new collection of poetry published each year. It is unique among poetry prizes in being judged by a panel of established poets. 

Judges Andrew Motion (Chair), Lavinia Greenlaw and Tobias Hill have chosen

Jen Hadfield's Nigh-No-Place

as the 2008 winner.

Jen Hadfield is a relative newcomer and a surprise winner. She won an Eric Gregory award in 2003 and her first collection, Almanacs, was published by Bloodaxe in 2005.  She used her Eric Gregory award money to fund a year's residence in Canada.  Nigh-No-Place was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation in Spring 2008.

The Prize, which is supported by Mrs Valerie Eliot and the T S Eliot Foundation, and sponsored by the John S Cohen Foundation, was presented by Mrs Valerie Eliot at an award ceremony at Skinners' Hall in central London on 12th January.

Thanks to the generosity of Mrs Valerie Eliot, the T S Eliot Prize is the largest cash award in British poetry. The winner received £15,000, increased from £10,000, and each of the shortlisted poets received a cheque for £1,000.

The shortlist consisted of the following ten collections from submissions of 90 new collections which were published in 2008:

Moniza Alvi Europa Bloodaxe
Peter Bennet The Glass Swarm Flambard
Ciaran Carson For All We Know Gallery Books
Robert Crawford Full Volume Jonathan Cape
Maura Dooley Life Under Water Bloodaxe
Mark Doty Theories and Apparitions Jonathan Cape
Jen Hadfield Nigh-No-Place Bloodaxe
Mick Imlah The Lost Leader Faber
Glyn Maxwell Hide Now Picador
Stephen Romer Yellow Studio Carcanet

Poetry Bookshop Online to find more details and buy the books online. The book title links above will take you to the website pages for each book.

An audio podcast of the T S Eliot Readings, which took place in London's Queen Elizabeth Hall on 11th January, will be available on the website on 13th January.

The Poetry Book Society, also runs a poetry book club and a children's poetry book club, the Children's Poetry Bookshelf.

The poets are featured on BBC's Today programme website, where you can also listen to recordings of them reading from their shortlisted work.

The T S Eliot Prize Shadowing Scheme

The Prize was also accompanied by a Shadowing Scheme which allowed students to shadow the judges, run by the Poetry Book Society in association with emagazine, an A Level magazine published by the English and Media Centre.

It comprised a poll to find out who the students thought should win the T S Eliot Prize (Ciaran Carson was the winner) and a competition for the best individual student’s rationale for their choice of winner.The competition was won by Patrick Ford of Marlborough College, who also chose Ciaran Carson.