And the winner is ....

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Gifted poet, Sarah Howe,  whose debut collection Loop of Jade was awarded the T. S. Eliot poetry prize 2015 on Monday evening, January 11th at a ceremony which took place at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.  Howe, a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute,  was awarded the £20,000 prize for work which examines her dual British and Chinese heritage. 

Howe beat many strong contenders and known names to the prize, including Don Paterson and Claudia Rankine,  with Chair of Judges, Pascale Petit, saying that Howe’s work would ‘change British poetry.’ 

Loop of Jade is published by Chatto & Windus.

◄ Worldwide readings planned in support of Palestinian poet facing death sentence in Saudi Arabia

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Steven Waling

Fri 15th Jan 2016 11:03

I think she's a good poet, from what I've read of her work. Mainstream, I suppose, but rather more adventurous than most. I think she might change that area of poetry and make it a bit more adventurous. No bad thing, as it was beginning to look extremely stale.

So I think she probably deserves the prize - and comments about 'ticking PC boxes' are not necessary frankly. It's actually a pretty good thing that a poet of colour and a woman has won the prize for what is, actually, very good quality work.

My point was not to do with whether she was or was not any good. I just believe quite strongly that she won't change the whole of poetry. Poetry - like music, like the visual arts - it's not one thing. It is a various art that takes different directions and has different groups and movements in it.

As an experimental/linguistically innovative poet myself, I doubt she'll affect much of my practice, and I doubt that many performance poets will be affected for instance. I doubt she'll have much impact on the traditional rhyming poets either.

I think it's part of the mainstream's feeling of superiority that makes it think that one mainstream poet will affect all poetry. The idea that they 'are' poetry and everything else is 'something-poetry' and not really poetry at all.

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John F Keane

Fri 15th Jan 2016 00:21

How can an anthology published this year 'change poetry'? It takes centuries of posterity to determine such things.

This person seems to tick an uncomfortably large number of PC boxes for me.

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Frances Spurrier

Thu 14th Jan 2016 14:06

I share your nervousness about prizes but they seem to be an inescapable fact of the contemporary poetry scene.

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Graham Sherwood

Thu 14th Jan 2016 12:24

I'm afraid I'm similarly distrustful of poetry competitions and particularly the reasons given for deciding on the winner.

I spent many years in the wine trade and there are acute similarities between poetry and fine wine. The problem comes when one needs to describe/laud them both.

Explanations are useless. The reader/drinker knows how they make one feel but cannot accurately explain in words without sounding ridiculous.

Steven is right! Change what?

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Steven Waling

Thu 14th Jan 2016 11:37

Which 'British poetry' are they talking about? 'British poetry' is a various art - it's also the land of Beowulf, Skelton, Blake and Bunting...

...not to mention Aphra Behn, Christiana Rossetti, and Dame Edith Sitwell and Geraldine Monk...

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Frances Spurrier

Wed 13th Jan 2016 10:41

Yes I agree and part of that memorability is an instinct for the natural rhythms of the language which this poet certainly seems to have.

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M.C. Newberry

Tue 12th Jan 2016 17:40

The only poetry to "change British poetry" will be that with
content and lines that linger for us to remember and which serve to replenish our experience of the common human condition to reach out to the generations that come after us here in the land of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Hardy
and many others whose work did - and does - exactly that.

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