e a m harris

Roaming the byways of literature

T S Eliot Prize is 20 this year

This major poetry prize, run by the Poetry Book Society (PBS), has reached a milestone.  Over the years many well-known poets have been shortlisted and this year is no different.

In 2011 the prize ran into some controversy when John Kinsella and Alice Oswald, two of the shortlisted poets, withdrew from the competition. They felt they could not take part after sponsorship from Aurum, a fund management company, was announced.

So that this doesn’t happen again, it is now part of the competition entry requirements that the publishers (who are the ones who submit the books to be judged)  act on the following:

the Prize will benefit from the second year of Aurum support, so publishers should not enter their work unless the poet accepts this.

To celebrate twenty years of supporting and encouraging poetry, the PBS is running a national T S Eliot Prize 20th Anniversary Tour which will visit Portsmouth, Winchester, Oldham, Halifax, Ludlow, Glasgow, Norwich, Liverpool, Durham and Sheffield between 17 September and 15 October.

Has poetry changed much in the last twenty years? I think performance poetry has increased and has had an effect, but I’m not aware of other large changes – just of the continuous gentle pushing out of the envelope by inventive individual poets.

What will it be like in 2033? Will the 40th Anniversary Tour be virtual? or beamed from space? will we still be around to find out?


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3 thoughts on “T S Eliot Prize is 20 this year

  1. Many question to ponder on and no easy answer. Has poetry changed over the last 20 years… Perhaps, perhaps not. The subject are still the same as ages ago , however time differences and language changes are not to avoid I think.
    Interesting facts about the Prize.
    groetjes, Francina


    • Thank you for sharing your thoughts on the subject. As you say, there’s much to ponder on. Language changes must affect poets who write in a very colloquial manner – one could do things with texting that can’t be done in other ways for instance. Other poets seem to stick to more traditional language and the changes aren’t so noticeable. Not to us anyway. Perhaps a future academic will write papers on the poetic changes in 20th and 21st centuries. That would make interesting reading.


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