Two Irish poets shortlisted for £25,000 TS Eliot Prize

Ailbhe Darcy and Nick Laird on 10-strong list picked by Sinéad Morrissey-led panel

 

Irish poets Ailbhe Darcy and Nick Laird have made the 10-strong shortlist for the £25,000 TS Eliot Prize, which was announced today.

“Poetry is a flourishing art form,” Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey, chair of the judges, said. “We read 176 collections from a plethora of poetry publishers, both new and established, and felt privileged to listen in to such a lively, diverse and urgent conversation.

“With difficulty we chose our 10 brilliant poetry books of the year – many of them debut collections. Together they offer an invigorated language, confident mastery of form, and fresh, sophisticated perspectives on our uncertain times.”

The shortlisted works are:
Ailbhe Darcy, Insistence (Bloodaxe)Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins (Penguin)
Zaffar Kunial, Us (Faber & Faber)
Nick Laird, Feel Free (Faber & Faber)
Fiona Moore, The Distal Point (Happenstance)
Sean O’Brien, Europa (Picador)
Phoebe Power, Shrines of Upper Austria (Carcanet)
Richard Scott, Soho (Faber & Faber)
Tracy K Smith, Wade in the Water (Penguin)
Hannah Sullivan, Three Poems (Faber & Faber)

John McAuliffe, reviewing Feel Free, “Laird’s best book yet”, in The Irish Times, wrote: “the highlights of the book are love poems and city poems for the Information Age: the poet’s situations and relationships – as a father, a son, a husband – are sized up and filtered through different kinds of brilliantly manipulated language, often tuned to a distinctive acoustic, an assonance that depends on short vowel sounds.”

Of Insistence, McAuliffe wrote: “Darcy situates our human ‘enclosures’ in a particular ecological context: silverfish, cockroaches, stinkbugs, jellyfish, mushrooms are the subjects of curious, interesting poems. The prism through which she records encounters with these creatures is also her subject, noticing the odd light that words cast on the world (‘Mushrooms could grow on a person’, she writes, with unnatural relish). In a terrific poem, Still, she writes with some irony, ‘some things are unnameable – / or some names are unspeakable – but we / are well capable of words –’.”

The prize is run by the TS Eliot Foundation. It is the most valuable prize in British poetry, with the shortlisted poets each receiving £1,500. It is the only poetry prize which is judged purely by established poets. The winner of the 2018 Prize will be announced on January 14th, 2019. Last year’s winner was Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds.

The TS Eliot Prize shortlist readings will take place on January 13th in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall as part of its literature programme. The largest annual poetry event in Britain, it will be hosted once again by Ian McMillan. Tickets are on sale from Southbank Centre’s ticket office on 0203 879 9555 or via southbankcentre.co.uk/literature.

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