Disturbing tale of lost innocence wins world’s most prestigious poetry prize

The 2016 winner of the 2016 T. S. Eliot Prize is Jacob Polley for his remarkable new collection Jackself. 

Jacob Polley, Winner of the 2016 T. S. Eliot Prize

After months of reading and deliberation, Judges Ruth Padel (Chair), Julia Copus and Alan Gillis chose the winner from a strong shortlist of six women and four men.  Chair Ruth Padel said:

All three judges were agonised by choosing between such brilliant books. But the winning collection, Jacob Polley’s Jackself, is a firework of a book; inventive, exciting and outstanding in its imaginative range and depth of feeling.

Jacob Polley was born in Carlisle in 1975. He is the author of four poetry collections, The Brink (2003), Little Gods (2006), The Havocs (2012) and Jackself (2016), all published by Picador. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2002, and both The Brink and The Havocs were shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. In 2004, he was named one of the ‘Next Generation’ of the twenty best new poets in Britain. His first novel, Talk of the Town, a demotic and funny coming-of-age murder mystery, won the 2010 Somerset Maugham Award. He now lives in St Andrews and works in Newcastle.

Ruth Padel formally announced that Jacob Polley was the winner at the T. S. Eliot Prize Award Ceremony in the Wallace Collection on Monday 16th January. The winner was presented with a cheque for £20,000 and each shortlisted poet received a cheque for £1,500 in recognition of their achievement in winning a place on the most prestigious shortlist in UK poetry.

The award ceremony was preceded by the T. S. Eliot Prize Readings on Sunday 16th January, held in the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. All ten poets read to a packed-out audience in a remarkable display of the strength and range of British poetry.

The T. S. Eliot Foundation has taken over the running of the T. S. Eliot Prize following the closing of the Poetry Book Society, the charity which established the Prize in 1993 and ran it for 23 years. This continues the tradition started by Mrs Valerie Eliot, who provided the prize money from the inception of the Prize.

The T. S. Eliot Foundation will give the prize money and be the sole supporter of the Prize. This is the richest prize in British poetry, with the winning poet receiving a cheque for £20,000 and the shortlisted poets each receiving £1,500.