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Monday, 22 January, 2001, 21:00 GMT
Japan poems scoop prize
Michael Longley
Belfast poet Michael Longley was shortlisted in 1995
Michael Longley has been named the winner of the eighth TS Eliot Prize for poetry for his collection The Weather in Japan.

Longley - a former Whitbread Poetry Prize winner - was presented with a cheque for 10,000 at a ceremony at Lancaster House in London on Monday.

The TS Eliot Prize is awarded to the best collection of new poetry published in the UK and Ireland in the past year.

It is awarded by the Poetry Book Society of which TS Eliot was a founder member in 1953.

The Weather in Japan bookcover
A poet of "compassion and grace"

Paul Muldoon, chairman of the judging panel, explained why Longley's book had won: "These are poems which at first glance may seem small-scale but which always expand our sense of history.

"Longley is a skilled lyric poet of compassion and grace."

The ceremony on Monday was attended by art world celebrities including Melvyn Bragg and former Whitbread Book of the Year winner, poet Seamus Heaney.

Previous winners of the TS Eliot Prize include Les Murray, Don Paterson, Ted Hughes and Hugo Williams.

Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 where he still lives with his wife, the critic Edna Longley.

Longley attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.

He went on to read Classics at Trinity College, Dublin.

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney attended the awards ceremony

His other poetry collections include Gorse Fires, which won the Whitbread Poetry Prize in 1991.

The Ghost Orchid was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize in 1995.

Longley was literary director of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland until taking early retirement in 1991.

TS Eliot founded the Poetry Book Society to promote a love and understanding of contemporary poetry.

It is a membership organisation which keeps poetry lovers around the world up to date with the best new English language poetry being published in the UK and Ireland.

See also:

04 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Whitbread winners square up
07 Nov 00 | Entertainment
Atwood wins Booker Prize
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