T. S. Eliot Prize News

Joelle Taylor’s C+nto & Othered Poems wins 2021 T. S. Eliot Prize

The T. S. Eliot Foundation is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2021 T. S. Eliot Prize is Joelle Taylor for C+nto & Othered Poems, published by The Westbourne Press.

Chair Glyn Maxwell said:

Every book on the shortlist had a strong claim on the award. We found it extremely hard to choose between ten superb collections. The arguments towards the end were passionate and thoughtful, but the choice of the judging panel is Joelle Taylor’s C+nto and Othered Poems, a blazing book of rage and light, a grand opera of liberation from the shadows of indifference and oppression.

After months of further reading, Judges Glyn Maxwell (Chair), Caroline Bird and Zafffar Kunial chose the winner from a shortlist which consisted of an eclectic mixture of established poets, none of whom has previously won the Prize, and relative newcomers. The list comprises one debut collection; work from six men and four women; one American; one poet from Ireland; as well as poets of Zambian and mixed-race ancestry, including Jamaican-British and Jamaican-Chinese.

Joelle Taylor is an award-winning poet, playwright and author who has published four collections of poetry: Ska Tissue (Mother Foucault Press, 2011), The Woman Who Was Not There (Burning Eye Books, 2014) and Songs My Enemy Taught Me (Out-Spoken Press, 2017). She founded SLAMbassadors, the UK’s national youth slam championships, for the Poetry Society in 2001 and was its Artistic Director and National Coach until 2018. She is the host of London’s premier night of poetry and music, Out-Spoken, currently resident at the Southbank. She has published three plays and a collection of short stories, The Night Alphabet, will be published in 2021. As an educator she has lead workshops and residencies in schools, prisons, youth centres, refugee groups, and other settings.  C+nto & Othered Poems was published in 2021 by The Westbourne Press. http://joelletaylor.co.uk/index.html

Glyn Maxwell announced that Joelle Taylor was the winner of the 2021 T. S. Eliot Prize at the award ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London on Monday 10th January. On 9th January nine of the poets read to a hybrid international audience in a fantastic evening of poetry. The broadcast version will be available for seven days on demand from the Southbank Centre  https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/literature-poetry/ts-eliot-prize?eventId=863500

Joelle will receive the prize money of £25,000 and each shortlisted poet will receive £1,500 in recognition of their achievement in winning a place on the most prestigious shortlist in UK poetry.

The T. S. Eliot Prize is run by The T. S. Eliot Foundation. It is the most valuable prize in British poetry. It is the only poetry prize which is judged purely by established poets. The 2021 judging panel was looking for the best new poetry collection written in English and published in 2021.

This year’s Prize also continues the collaboration between the T. S. Eliot Foundation and the Poetry Archive. The T. S. Eliot Prize Winners’ Archive presents a celebration of the Prize and going forward each winner will be inducted into the Archive, so that their voice will be preserved and made available for posterity online.

The T. S. Eliot Prize YouTube site with hundreds of videos by shortlisted poets is at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiFYerr-EK6Xkys5kh6tZ1Q/videos

The weekly T. S. Eliot Prize newsletter has provided essential background on the shortlisted poets, including links to specially-commissioned new videos, readers’ notes and reviews. To look at past newsletters or subscribe go to:

tseliot.com/prize/subscribe-to-the-t-s-eliot-prize-newsletter/.

Last year’s winner was Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart and the judges were Lavinia Greenlaw (chair), Mona Arshi and Andrew McMillan.

The Faber & Faber Poetry List

Jane Feaver, Editorial Manager, Poetry

To mark the centenary of the publication of The Waste Land, Faber will be publishing, among other things, a full colour edition of the manuscript – a reminder that, for almost as long, poetry has been the beating heart of this publishing house. The poetry list continues to feed and flourish on that legacy, while pushing out new shoots, discovering unbroken ground and unheard voices.

A recent reading by five Faber poets shows the model in action: Paul Muldoon, who was first published by the company fifty years ago, launched his new collection, Howdie-Skelp, alongside Maurice Riordan and his latest, Shoulder Tap (Maurice, who has a thirty-year history with the firm); joining them were representatives of a younger generation: Jack Underwood with his second collection, A Year in the New Life, which we’re delighted to find nominated for this year’s T.S. Eliot prize, and Emily Berry, whose forthcoming third collection, Unexhausted Time (a PBS Choice) we are publishing in the spring.

In the same line-up, an entirely new voice to the list – Victoria Adukwei Bulley – read from her remarkable debut, Quiet, out next summer, poems that explore questions of interiority and selfhood, and the telling distance between white and black noise.

The list is international in its reach. We are proud in the last few years to have brought into the fold Ilya Kaminsky, Ishion Hutchinson, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and the 2021 Pulitzer Prize winner Natalie Diaz, whose remarkable debut collection, When My Brother Was An Aztec, appears under the Faber imprint next year.

Writers in translation are revitalized, whether from as far back as Gillian Clarke’s lucid rendering of The Gododdin and Simon Armitage’s electric version of The Owl and the Nightingale, or in Michael Hofmann’s wonderfully sympathetic translation of the twentieth-century German poet, Gottfried Benn. In this vein, we are delighted to be publishing the collected translations of Seamus Heaney (the first of four Heaney titles projected over the next few years), poems extraordinary in their range and intellectual curiosity, and an example to us all.

 

 

‘A masterpiece; it was impossible not to publish it’

 

Lynn Gaspard, Saqi Books

 

 

For over thirty years, Saqi Books has released seminal, cutting-edge works about the Middle East and North Africa, offering an independent platform for writers and artists from around the world. We have taken the lead in making available banned works by novelists and political dissidents from the region – works reflecting progressive attitudes and often by minority writers (ethnic, religious, sex or their gender). These include groundbreaking works by Muslim feminists, historians and social anthropologists, such as Fatema Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil, Amin Maalouf’s The Crusades through Arab Eyes, Arab Jews by Abbas Shiblak and Unspeakable Love: Gay and Lesbian Life in the Middle East by Brian Whitaker.

One might wonder how a poetry collection about the British butch lesbian counterculture found its way onto our list. In fact, it is a natural extension of our ambition since 1983 to champion fierce, powerful writing by authors outside the mainstream. Indeed, our progressive nonfiction imprint The Westbourne Press (TWP) was established in 2012 to release intellectually daring, topical and intelligent works on the leading issues of our time – books that inform us about the world we live in. C+nto sits alongside TWP titles including Sex and Punishment by Eric Berkowitz, Misogynies by Joan Smith and Asian Britain by Susheila Nasta, among others that question orthodox attitudes to sex, gender, race, class and colonial legacies.

Under our Saqi imprint, we have translated the works of numerous key Arab poets, such as Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish and Nazik al-Malaika, and published bestselling collections, including Classical Poems by Arab Women. However, before C+nto, The Westbourne Press had only released one poetry collection: I Am Nobody’s Nigger by Dean Atta (shortlisted for the Polari Prize 2014).

Joelle’s work was first brought to our attention by Sabrina Mahfouz in Smashing It: Working Class Artists on Life, Art and Making it Happen. Joelle’s performances at events to celebrate the book’s release were electrifying and totally transfixing. Every once in a while, as a publisher, if you are lucky, you come across the work of a writer that rocks you to your core, that you know will make a difference. Joelle Taylor is one such writer. C+nto is a masterpiece; it was impossible not to publish it. It records memories of lost people and places, and so poignantly relays the pain and violence endured by butch lesbians – an experience not yet widely recognised. But Joelle’s writing is ultimately full of hope. She writes about love: the love between women, the love and solidarity found within the butch community, the love that we each deserve, regardless of our sexual orientation or background.

We cannot think of a writer more deserving of a T. S. Eliot Prize shortlisting than Joelle, who has dedicated her working life to the advancement of poetry and spoken word. C+nto is a poetic tour de force, earth-shattering in its impact and vital in its representation of a community increasingly losing space within the mainstream.