T. S. Eliot Prize News

Hannah Sullivan wins T. S. Eliot Prize with ‘astonishing debut’ collection

The T. S. Eliot Foundation is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2018 T. S. Eliot Prize is Hannah Sullivan for her thrilling collection Three Poems, published by Faber & Faber.

After months of reading and deliberation, Judges Sinéad Morrissey, Daljit Nagra and Clare Pollard unanimously chose the winner from a shortlist of five women and five men, five of whose collections were debuts.

 Chair Sinéad Morrissey said:

“Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems is an astonishing debut, challenging the parameters of what poetry can do. Her collection stood out even amongst this year’s outstanding and diverse shortlist. Rarely has such a significant poet arrived so fully-formed.”

 Hannah Sullivan was born in 1979 and grew up in Ealing, in West London. She studied Classics at Cambridge, received her PhD in English from Harvard in 2008, and taught as an Assistant Professor at Stanford. Her study The Work of Revision, which examined how modernist approaches to rewriting shaped literary style, was published in 2013 and awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy. Three Poems (Faber, 2018) is her first poetry collection. She is an Associate Professor of English at New College, Oxford and lives in London with her husband and two sons.

Sinéad Morrissey formally announced Hannah Sullivan as the winner at the T. S. Eliot Prize Award Ceremony in the Wallace Collection on Monday 14th January. She was presented with a cheque for £25,000 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 13th January, held in the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. All ten poets read to an enthusiastic sellout audience in a fantastic evening of poetry.

The T. S. Eliot Prize is run by The T. S. Eliot Foundation. It is the most valuable prize in British poetry, with the winning poet receiving a cheque for £25,000 and the shortlisted poets each receiving £1,500. It is the only poetry prize which is judged purely by established poets.

The weekly T. S. Eliot Prize newsletter has provided essential background on the shortlisted poets, including links to specially-commissioned new videos and reviews. To discover this year’s shortlist, see our newsletters here.

We have beautiful recordings of the shortlisted poets reading and talking about their work, a remarkable body of work with 40 videos available on YouTube and the T. S. Eliot Prize website.

2.1

Days may be where we live, but mornings are eternity.
They wake us, and every day waking is absurdity;
All the things you just did yesterday to do over again, eternally.

The clench of tonsil on extra tonsil is an oyster only once,
Once, the blood and itch of broken skin, and afterwards indifference,
The boredom of the weeping aromatic bedsores only once.

But, forever fumbling for the snooze button, the gym is there
Forever, and the teeth silt over yellow to be flossed, and there
Will be, in eternity, coffee to be brewed and that moment in the shower
When you open your mouth and rhotacise the water and just stand there,
Stupid bliss of hot water, tongue-tingling, steaming the shower.


From Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems, published by Faber & Faber.

The T. S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings

Hosted by the inimitable Ian McMillan, the fabulous T. S. Eliot Prize Readings on 13 January will showcase the poets shortlisted for the 2018 T S Eliot Prize by the judges, Chair Sinéad Morrissey, Daljit Nagra and Clare Pollard.

All ten poets chosen by the judges have accepted the invitation to read, so we’re looking forward to a wonderful evenining of great poetry from Ailbhe Darcy, Terrance Hayes, Zaffar Kunial, Nick Laird, Fiona Moore, Sean O’Brien, Phoebe Power, Richard Scott, Tracy K. Smith and Hannah Sullivan. For the first time, the shortlist includes five debut collections in what has been described by the Guardian as an ‘intensely political’ list.

An exciting evening of poetry will offer the opportunity to hear some of the best contemporary poets in the English-speaking world reading from their own work, on the evening before the announcement of the winner of the most valuable prize in British poetry.

Book online now!

Poem of the Week

Poem of the week this week comes from Arundhathi Subramaniam’s When God is a Traveller, published by Bloodaxe. When God is a Traveller was shortlisted for the 2014 T. S. Eliot Prize. You can hear Arundathi reading from her collection here.

‘Quick-fix Memos for Difficult Days’

1

Clear
clothes, pillows, books, letters
of the germs of need –
the need to have things mean
more than they do.

Claim verticality.

2

Trust only the words that begin
their patter
in the rain-shadow valley
of the mind.

3

Some nights
you’ve seen
enough earth
and sky
for one lifetime

but know you still have unfinished business with both.