This year sees the 26th T. S. Eliot Prize being awarded, with the first Prize going to Ciarán Carson in 1993 for his collection First Language, published by The Gallery Press. Ciarán was shortlisted again in 2008 for For All We Know, also published by The Gallery Press. Another Irish poet, Sinéad Morrissey, has been shortlisted no less than four times: in 2002 for Between Here and There, in 2005 for The State of the Prisons, again in 2009 for Through the Square Window, and finally in 2013 for Parallax (all Carcanet), which won the Prize that year. Sean O’Brien’s career has seen him win every major poetry prize in the UK, having been shortlisted five times for the T. S. Eliot Prize: in 2001 for Downriver, in 2007 for The Drowned Book (which won the Prize that year), in 2011 for November, in 2015 for The Beautiful Librarians and again this year with Europa (all Picador). Simon Armitage has been shortlisted no less than four times, alongside Pascale Petit and David Harsent, who won the Prize in 2014 with Fire Songs (Faber). One of this year’s Judges, Daljit Nagra, has been shortlisted twice, in 2011 and 2013.
Many poets have been shortlisted twice or more, including Fiona Sampson (twice), Ruth Padel (three times), Paul Farley (three times), Kathleen Jamie (twice), Carol Ann Duffy (twice, winning with Rapture in 2005), Jacob Polley (three times, winning with Jackself (Picador) in 2016), Mark Doty (three times, winning in the Prize’s third year with My Alexandria (Cape)), Jen Hadfield (shortlisted twice, winning with her debut Nigh-no-place (Bloodaxe) in 2008), Anne Carson (twice), Sharon Olds (twice, winning in 2013 with Stag’s Leap (Cape), Seamus Heaney (three times, winning with District and Circle in 2006), Robin Robertson (three times), Selima Hill (twice, in 2001 and 2015), Michael Longley (three times, winning in 2000 with The Weather in Japan (Cape)), and John Burnside (three times, winning in 2011 with Black Cat Bone (Cape). Don Paterson, who has been shortlisted three times, remains the only poet to have won the Prize twice, in 1997 with God’s Gift to Women and again in 2003 with Landing Light (both Faber).
In the last ten years, the Prize has been won three times by debut collections – Jen Hadfield in 2008, Sarah Howe with Loop of Jade in 2015 and Ocean Vuong last year with Night Sky with Exit Wounds. Many debut collections have been shortlisted down the years, notably Jacob Polley’s The Brink in 2003, Kathryn Gray’s The Never Never in 2004, Helen Farish’s Intimates in 2005, Francis Leviston’s Public Dream in 2008, Sam Willetts’ New Light for the Old Dark in 2010, Helen Mort’s Division Street in 2013 and Fiona Benson’s Bright Travellers in 2014.
A total of seven publishers have won the T. S. Eliot Prize: poets from Faber & Faber have won nine times, Jonathan Cape six, Bloodaxe and Picador three times each, Carcanet twice and Chatto & Windus and The Gallery Press once each.
- 2017 – Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Cape)
- 2016 – Jacob Polley, Jackself (Picador)
- 2015 – Sarah Howe, Loop of Jade (Chatto & Windus)
- 2014 – David Harsent, Fire Songs (Faber)
- 2013 – Sinéad Morrissey, Parallax (Carcanet)
- 2012 – Sharon Olds, Stag’s Leap (Cape)
- 2011 – John Burnside, Black Cat Bone (Cape)
- 2010 – Derek Walcott, White Egrets (Faber)
- 2009 – Philip Gross, The Water Table (Bloodaxe)
- 2008 – Jen Hadfield, Nigh-No-Place (Bloodaxe)
- 2007 – Sean O’Brien, The Drowned Book (Picador)
- 2006 – Seamus Heaney, District and Circle (Faber)
- 2005 – Carol Ann Duffy, Rapture (Picador)
- 2004 – George Szirtes, Reel (Bloodaxe)
- 2003 – Don Paterson, Landing Light (Faber)
- 2002 – Alice Oswald, Dart (Faber)
- 2001 – Anne Carson, The Beauty of the Husband (Cape)
- 2000 – Michael Longley, The Weather in Japan (Cape)
- 1999 – Hugo Williams, Billy’s Rain (Faber)
- 1998 – Ted Hughes, Birthday Letters (Faber)
- 1997 – Don Paterson, God’s Gift to Women (Faber)
- 1996 – Les Murray, Subhuman Redneck Poems (Carcanet)
- 1995 – Mark Doty, My Alexandria (Cape)
- 1994 – Paul Muldoon, The Annals of Chile (Faber)
- 1993 – Ciarán Carson, First Language: Poems (Gallery Press)