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Page last updated at 08:23 GMT, Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Poetry prize winner

Jen Hadfield is the winner of the prestigious TS Eliot prize with her work Nigh-No-Place, a collection of poems drawn from the natural world and inspired by the northern landscapes of Canada and Scotland.

Jen Hadfield

Jen Hadfield lives in Shetland where she works as a poet, writing tutor, artist and occasional shop assistant. Her previous collection, Almanacs, won an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors.

The Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, who chaired this year's judges, called her: "A remarkably original poet, near the beginning of what is obviously going to be a distinguished career.

Inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday and honour its founding poet, the award comes with a 15,000 cash prize, the largest in British poetry.

The TS Eliot prize is an important fixture on the literary calendar, and with previous winners including Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney, chair of the judging panel Andrew Motion has reason to describe it as "the most prestigious poetry prize in the country".

Listen to the other shortlisted poets reading from their own work...


Moniza Alvi

Moniza Alvi's Europa deals with concepts of rape and honour killings, identity, enforced exile and post-traumatic stress disorder.

She was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hertfordshire. Following a career as a secondary school teacher, she is now a tutor for the Open College of the Arts. A previous collection of poetry, The Country At My Shoulder, was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize in 1993.

Peter Bennet

Peter Bennet's The Glass Swarm is a collection of darkly humorous poems that brings together history, legend, folklore and haunted landscapes. Critics describe his work as "profoundly English" with "an exact and surprising musicality".

He lives in Northumberland near the Wild Hills o' Wanney and has published five poetry pamphlets and four books of poetry, including Sky Riding (1984); All The Real (1994) and Goblin Lawn: New & Selected Poems as well as co-editing the magazine Other Poetry.

Ciaran Carson

For All We Know is a collection of poems that describes in fragments the story of a man and woman who meet in Belfast shortly before a bomb goes off, and the unfolding of their love affair. It is written in unrhymed couplets with 14 syllables to each line.

Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast and is professor of poetry and director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University. His nine collections include The Irish for No (1987); Belfast Confetti (1989); First Language (1993) and The Twelfth of Never (1998).

Robert Crawford

The poems in Full Volume cover a diverse range of topics - from a diver's descent into Loch Ness to a haiku about an email and existential advice to a local pub in St Andrews - each poem written in a distinctively Scottish, philosophical tone.

Robert Crawford was born in Lanarkshire and is currently Professor of Modern Scottish Literature at the University of St Andrews. He published his first collection, A Scottish Assembly, in 1990 and has recently written The Bard, a new biography of Robert Burns.

Maura Dooley

Life Under Water is a collection of poems that reflects on landscapes, friendships, miner strikes, folklore and valentines, each poem submerged within the extended metaphor of water with an undercurrent of political argument.

Maura Dooley was born in Truro and now lives in London where she works as a freelance writer and lecturer at Goldsmith's College. Previous collections include Explaining Magnetism (1991) and Kissing a Bone (1996).

Mark Doty

Theories and Apparitions is steeped in the atmosphere of everyday life in New York, it deals with themes of mortality and the beauty of the world, and is dominated by images of flight and ascent.

Mark Doty lives in New York City and is the author of seven previous poetry collections and four books of non-fiction - most recently the New York Times bestseller, Dog Years. He won the TS Eliot Prize in 1995 for his collection My Alexandria.

Mick Imlah

The Lost Leader portrays Scottish history and culture and is peppered with heroes of the north, from Bonnie Prince Charlie - the lost leader of the title - to Balliol, a 13th century king and Gordon Brown, a legendary rugby player.

Mick Imlah was brought up near Glasgow and in Kent. He was educated at Magdalen College, Oxford and has worked at the Times Literary Supplement since 1992. His collections include The Zoologist's Bath (1982), Birthmarks (1988) and Diehard (2007).

Glyn Maxwell

Hide Now is a collection of poems haunted by historical ghosts and nightmares from the future. Robesperre, Dick Cheney and the Reverend Jim Jones all have their place in the poems of an author often compared with WH Auden.

Glyn Maxwell grew up in Hertfordshire but now lives and works in the US. He is poetry editor at the New Republic magazine and has published numerous poetry collections, plays and novels.

Stephen Romer

Stephen Romer's collection, Yellow Studio, deals with the idea of unrequited love through a number of different subjects; the death of his father, contemporary France and 9/11 to name just a few.

He was born in Hertfordshire but now lives in France, where he teaches at the University of Tours. Yellow Studio is his fourth collection of poetry. He also writes regularly for the Guardian and the Times Literary Supplement.

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