T. S. Eliot Prize News


The T. S. Eliot Foundation is delighted to announce the judges for the 2021 Prize. The panel will be chaired by Glyn Maxwell, alongside Caroline Bird and Zaffar Kunial.

The 2021 judging panel will be looking for the best new poetry collection written in English and published in 2021. The prize is unique in that entrants are judged by their peers; the panel always consists of established poets.

Glyn Maxwell said:

A prize named for T. S. Eliot already has a great responsibility to bear, for he is uniquely placed in the story of English-language poetry. Eliot was both a master of authoritative tradition and at the same time a daring adventurer at the leading edge of what poetry can be, how it can change as the world changes. What do the finest old poems and the most enthralling new poems have in common? They are unforgettable encounters. As Eliot implied, they enter the stream of tradition and may change its course. I am delighted and honoured to chair a panel featuring Caroline Bird and Zaffir Kunial, two of the finest young poets in the language now. We look forward to stepping out into the beautiful storm.

 The call for submissions will go out in late June, with the submission window closing at the end of July.

The 2021 T. S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings will take place on Sunday 9 January 2022 at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The shortlist readings are the largest annual poetry event in the UK.

The winner of the 2021 Prize will be announced at the Award Ceremony on Monday 10 January 2022. The T. S. Eliot Prize is the most valuable prize in British poetry – the winning poet will receive a cheque for £25,000 and the shortlisted poets will be presented with cheques for £1,500.

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.

This year’s judges


The T. S. Eliot Foundation is delighted to announce that the winner of the 2020 T. S. Eliot Prize is Bhanu Kapil for How to Wash a Heart, published by Pavilion Poetry

Bhanu Kapil






Chair Lavinia Greenlaw said:

‘Our shortlist celebrated the ways in which poetry is responding to profound change, and the stylistic freedom that today’s poets have claimed. From this impressive field, we unanimously chose Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart as our winner. It is a radical and arresting collection that recalibrates what it’s possible for poetry to achieve.’

After months of further reading, Judges Lavinia Greenlaw, Mona Arshi and Andrew McMillan chose the winner from a shortlist which included an exciting mixture of established poets and relative newcomers including three debut collections, work from two Americans, as well as poets of Native American, Chinese Indonesian and British, Indian and mixed race ancestry. Nine publishers were represented, more than for many years, with five titles from new or recently-established presses.

You can see more of Bhanu’s videos here, and listen to the Shortlist Readings here.

Bhanu Kapil was born in England to Indian parents, and she grew up in a South Asian, working-class community in London. She lives in the UK and US where she spent 21 years at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She is the author of six books of poetry/prose: The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006), humanimal  (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat, 2011), Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat, 2015) and How to Wash a Heart (Pavilion Poetry 2020), her first collection to be published in the UK, which was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

Pavilion Poetry is a new imprint of Liverpool University Press which was set up seven years ago: https://www.liverpooluniversitypress.co.uk/series/series-12328/

Lavina Greenlaw announced that Bhanu Kapil was the winner of the 2020 T. S. Eliot Prize at the end of the T. S. Eliot Prize Readings streamed from the Southbank Centre on Sunday 24th January. All ten poets read to an international audience in a fantastic evening of poetry. The broadcast version will be available until 31 January from the Southbank Centre:  https://www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/literature-poetry/ts-eliot-prize?eventId=863500

Bhanu 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 and the only poetry prize which is judged purely by established poets. The 2020 judging panel was looking for the best new poetry collection written in English and published in 2020.

For more information on this year’s shortlist, including videos of the poets, new reviews and readers’ notes, and the Prize in general, please visit the T. S. Eliot Prize website.

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 newslettters or subscribe go to: tseliot.com/prize/subscribe-to-the-t-s-eliot-prize-newsletter/

Last year’s winner was Roger Robinson’s A Portable Paradise and the judges were John Burnside (chair), Sarah Howe and Nick Makoha.

Corsair Poetry



Sarah Castleton


It would be disingenuous of me to claim that the list began with any kind of manifesto. It didn’t. It’s not entirely untrue that it began with a certain low-level frustration on my part that I couldn’t easily buy editions of books by two poets: Mary Oliver and Morgan Parker. So, I decided I would try and publish them. It feels particularly good to know that Mary was happy with the work we had done and knew her work was in print here before she died. If the list has a heart, it’s right there: with Mary’s clarity and timelessness, with Morgan’s energy and wit, her way of being always ahead of some curve. In fact, next year we publish the first UK edition of Morgan’s debut Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (no one does titles like Morgan does titles) and the first UK edition of Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs.

Honestly, I am not part of any poetry scene. I am not based in London. I am not a poet. I don’t claim to be any kind of expert. I acquire poetry like I acquire fiction – relying heavily on my ear for words on a page, a certain degree of gut-instinct. I read to learn. I am a slow reader. I fear I depend far too much on the passage of time: I like to let words percolate. To hear what silence reveals, I guess. I think perhaps it means I am open to things that might not be immediately ‘obvious’.

I want the list to develop publishing poets from home and elsewhere, to do that through submissions and by happy chance, through collaboration and conversation. Next year, I am excited to be publishing Joyelle McSweeney. The brilliant Nightboat Books published her collection Toxicon and Arachne earlier this year in the US. To my mind, she is writing some of the most genuinely thrilling poetry around.

Also next year, we are celebrating twenty years of Malika Booker’s Poetry Kitchen, with an anthology edited by Rishi Dastidar and Maisie Lawrence. I hope it stands as testimony to the work of this quiet, mighty, revolutionary collective in nurturing and elevating the work of poets who did not fit the traditional literary establishment.

Truthfully, I suffer a lot from impostor syndrome but to look at the small bookshelf of poets we publish, I can’t help but feel we are doing something good. Mary and Morgan and Joyelle; Ada Limon, Fatimah Asghar, Fiona Sampson, Heather Christle. And, of course, Shane McCrae. The Gilded Auction Block was my book of the year last year To see Sometimes I Never Suffered on the T S Eliot shortlist alongside these other incredible poets is a big moment for a nascent list. I’m delighted for him and delighted to say that we will be publishing his next collection in 2022. The future is and ever was a fragile thing – but there will be damn good poetry to greet us there.

Corsair Poetry online