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:
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.