The TS Eliot Prize Award Ceremony 2014 at the Wallace Collection
Director of the Poetry Book Society, Chris Holifield, introduced the TS Eliot Prize ceremony last night in the courtyard of the beautifully historical Wallace Collection, as Chair of the PBS, George Szirtes, was this year a shortlister. The prize was set up in 1993 to commemorate 40 years of the PBS in its founding father’s name. The prize was funded by Eliot’s widow, Valerie Eliot, until her death in 2013, and is now supported by the trustees of the TS Eliot estate.
Chair of judges, Ian Duhig, spoke at length of the merits of each shortlister’s book before introducing the winner of the £15,000 prize – Belfast’s first poet laureate, Sinéad Morrissey. On receipt of her award, Morrissey was quiet and humble, saying only “fourth time lucky! Thank you so much to the judges” before reading her poem, Shostakovich. 41-year-old Morrissey, Reader in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Belfast, has previously been shortlisted for the prize in 2002, 2005 and 2009, but this year won after a reported unanimous decision from judges Imtiaz Dharker, Vicki Feaver and Ian Duhig himself.
Parallax, for which Morrissey won the award, is a title defined as: “the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions, e.g. through the viewfinder and the lens of a camera.” Shifting perceptions are exactly what Morrissey explores in Parallax, which is, in Duhig’s words, “politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests.”
Parallax was also nominated for the Forward Prize for Best Collection, but lost to fellow TS Eliot Prize shortlister, Michael Symmonds Roberts with Drysalter. As this year’s winner, Morrissey joins her fellow 2013 shortlisters, George Szirtes and Anne Carson alongside the likes of Seamus Heaney and Carol Ann Duffy, in the ranks of those who have previously been awarded what is regarded as the most prestigious poetry prize in Britain.
For further information about the T S Eliot Prize visit here.