After months of reading and deliberation, Judges Bill Herbert (Chair), James Lasdun and Helen Mort chose the winner from a strong shortlist of four women and six men.
Chair Bill Herbert said:
“Ocean Vuong’s Night Sky with Exit Wounds deals with the aftermath of war and migration over three generations. It is a compellingly assured debut, the definitive arrival of a significant voice.”
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he is an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His chapbooks are No (2013) and Burnings (2010). He is the author of the best-selling debut, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, winner of the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, and a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016. His work has been translated into Hindi, Korean, Russian, and Vietnamese. He is currently at work on his first novel. www.oceanvuong.com.
Bill Herbert formally announced that Ocean Vuong was the winner at the T. S. Eliot Prize Award Ceremony in the Wallace Collection on Monday 15th January. The winner 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 14th January, held in the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. All ten poets read to a packed-out audience in a remarkable display of the strength and range of British poetry.
To mark the 25th anniversary of the Prize, The T. S. Eliot Foundation has increased the prize money to £25,000, with the shortlisted poets each receiving £1,500, making it the richest prize in British poetry.