A Welsh poet is "absolutely thrilled" at being shortlisted for the £10,000 TS Eliot Prize for poetry.
Kathryn Gray said winning the prize was "unlikely"
Kathryn Gray, from Caerphilly, has been nominated for her debut volume The Never Never.
She is the first Welsh-born poet to make the shortlist of 10, which also includes broadcaster Tom Paulin.
Ms Gray, 31, a former civil servant at the Wales Office in London, has the only debut collection still in the running for the prize.
"I nearly fell off my chair when I heard the news," she said.
"It is a wonderful, wonderful honour - once you are on the list, you cannot lose.
"Keeping company with the likes of Tom Paulin and Mike Longley is ample reward."
TS Eliot 2004 shortlist
Colette Bryce - The Full Indian Rope Trick
Kathryn Gray - The Never Never
Kathleen Jamie - The Tree House
Michael Longley - Snow Water
Ruth Padel - The Soho Leopard
Tom Paulin - The Road to Inver
Peter Porter - Afterburner
Michael Symmons Roberts - Corpus
George Szirtes - Reel
John Hartley Williams - Blues
Previous winners of the prize include Ted Hughes, but Ms Gray admitted she did not fancy her chances of taking the top prize.
"The idea of winning is unlikely, I think, although £10,000 would be very useful."
She said that being nominated for her debut work had made her "doubly shocked".
"It gives me that confidence, and encourages you, as poetry is a very very difficult pursuit - you can get no acknowledgement and often very little money!"
Until recently, Ms Gray was assistant private secretary to Wales Office Minister Don Touhig, and her collection includes one poem inspired by life in Whitehall, called Recess.
New Year honour
The TS Eliot Prize is seen as the poetry equivalent of the Booker Prize for fiction, and has been described as "the prize most poets want to win" by poet laureate Andrew Motion.
The judging panel includes Paul Farley, who won the Forward Poetry Prize in 1998 and the Whitbread Poetry Award in 2002.
Other judges include Scottish poet Douglas Dunn and Welsh-based writer Carol Rumens.
The panel will make its final decision on 17 January 2005, when the award will be presented by TS Eliot's widow Valerie in London.