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The T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary Tour

16 September 2013

It's 60 years since T S Eliot, acting on a suggestion from his friend the poet Stephen Spender, worked with his friends to set up the Poetry Book Society to encourage poetry readers and bring the best new poetry to them. As every poet knows, getting to your audience is still a difficult task - it's hard to get published and then hard to find an audience to read to.

Forty years on, the PBS set up the T S Eliot Prize for Poetry in honour of its founding poet. The Prize has grown gradually in reputation and influence and is now regarded as one of the top international poetry prizes. Every year publishers submit new collections, which are judged by a specially chosen panel and a shortlist of ten is announced in October, this year on 24 October. Then the judges mull over the shortlist until January when the shortlisted poets read in front of an audience of 2,000 in the Royal Festival Hall in a fantastic celebration which is the biggest poetry event of the UK poetry year. The evening has an exciting edge to it because the next day the judges meet to decide on the winner and the following evening he or she is announced at a glamorous party and award ceremony.

The PBS also runs a Shadowing Scheme, which is a writing competition for ‘A' level students, and a Reading Groups scheme which is open to all reading groups and this year has a new competition. But it's the T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary Tour which marks a new departure this year. It's a celebration of the 20th anniversary of the setting-up of the Prize and will take 36 poets, winners and shortlisted poets from the last few years, round the country to read at ten venues in front of audiences of all sizes.

If you live in England or Scotland it's an unparalleled opportunity to catch the poets at a venue near you. Each event will present three T S Eliot Prize shortlisted poets and a local poet in a wonderful evening of poetry. If you're a poet, it's a chance to hear some of your best fellow-writers. If you're a poetry lover, it's an opportunity not to be missed.