Two Irish poets shortlisted for TS Eliot Prize

Sinéad Morrissey chosen for fourth time as Maurice Riordan makes shortlist debut


Two Irish poets have been shortlisted today for this year’s TS Eliot Prize for Poetry. Sinéad Morrissey has been chosen for her collection, Parallax, the fourth time her work has been shortlisted, and Maurice Riordan for The Water Stealer.

The winner, who will receive a £15,000 prize, will be announced on January 13th, 2014, while the runners-up will receive £1,000 each.

Morrissey, who was born in 1972 in Co Armagh, is the author of five poetry collections, three of which – Between Here and There (2002); The State of the Prisons (2005); and the PBS Choice Through the Square Window (2009) – have been shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize. Through the Square Window also won the 2010 Irish Times Poetry Now Award.

Her latest collection, Parallax, published by Carcanet, was also shortlisted for the 2013 Forward Prize for Best Collection. She lives in Belfast where she is writer in residence at Queen’s University.

Parallax is in the same thematic vein as Through the Square Window, closely recording family life but marrying those observations to more panoramic scenarios: in A Matter of Life and Death, Morrissey remembers the hours before the birth of her second child, hours she spent watching David Niven star in the eponymous film.

Riordan was born in Lisgoold, Co. Cork, in 1953, and is a teacher, poet and editor. Educated at UCC and McMaster University in Canada, Riordan emigrated to England to work as a professor at Imperial College and Goldsmiths College. The author of two books of poetry, A Word from the Loki (Faber and Faber, 1995), a Poetry Book Society Choice; and Floods (Faber & Faber, 2000), which was shortlisted for the Whitbread Prize, Riordan also edited an anthology of poems about Science, cleverly titled A Quark for Mister Mark. He lives in south London, and is the editor of Poetry Review.

The Water Stealer (Faber) continues to mine the rich material that was at the heart of his outstanding 2007 collection, The Holy Land. Reviewing the collection in The Irish Times, John McAuliffe observed: “Riordan puzzles over the recurrence and significance of certain feelings and events, but he also does more than simply register what happened. [He] invents other possibilities in poems which bear his very particular stamp and poise, with archaic words and philosophical ruminations slipped into a more conversational idiom.”

Previous winners of the TS Eliot Prize include Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley and Seamus Heaney.