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TS Eliot prize 2010

TS Eliot
The 15,000 prize money is donated by TS Eliot's widow Valerie

Derek Walcott has won of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry with his collection White Egrets.

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.

Speaking on Today, the poet said it was an "honour" to receive the prize.

In the run up to the announcement, the Today programme is playing extracts of the shortlisted poets reading their own works.

You can hear extended readings below and the winner will be announced on the evening of Monday 24 January.

Derek Walcott

Born in 1930 in Saint Lucia, Derek Walcott is a poet, playwright and writer, who Robert Graves once said, "handles English with a closer understanding of its inner magic than most, if not any, of his contemporaries".

Among his themes are the continuing impact of colonialism and the symbolism of myths.

Walcott was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992.


Simon Armitage

Simon Armitage has published ten volumes of poetry and has won many awards, including Sunday Times author of the year.

He also writes for television, radio and film and has received an Ivor Novello Award for his song-lyrics in the Channel 4 film Feltham Sings.

In 2010 he was awarded the CBE for services to poetry.

Pascale Petite

French born poet Pascale Petit started out her career in the arts as a sculptor.

She is widely travelled in the Venezuelan Amazon, China, Kazakhstan, Nepal, and Mexico.

She was Poetry Editor of Poetry London from 1989 to 2005, and was a co-founding tutor of The Poetry School where she still teaches.

Annie Freud

Born in London in 1948, Freud did not start writing poetry until the late 1990's, and won the Glen Dimplex New Writers' Award (Poetry) in 2007.

She is the daughter of painter Lucian Freud, maternal grand-daughter of sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, and the great grand daughter of Sigmund Freud.

Fiona Sampson

Born in London in 1963, Fiona Sampson was a concert violinist before going up to Oxford University, where she won the Newdigate Prize for poetry.

Currently the editor of Poetry Review, Sampson's work has been published or broadcast in more than 30 languages.

She won the 2009 Cholmondeley Award.

Seamus Heaney

Considered by Robert Lowell as "the most important Irish poet since Yeats," Seamus Heaney enjoys a worldwide reputation as, among other things, a poet academic and translator.

A former Professor of Poetry at Oxford University, works like his translation of Beowulf have been praised for melding the ancient and modern.

Heaney won the TS Eliot Prize in 2006 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.

Robin Robertson

Born in 1955, Robin Robertson has been described as "a poet of austere and meticulous diction". A native of the north-east coast of Scotland, he is the author of four collections of poetry.

In 2004, Robertson was named by the Poetry Book Society as one of the "Next Generation" poets, and received the EM Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Sam Willetts

Sam Willetts, who was born in 1962, has been praised by one reviewer as "a poet who has something to say and the talent to express it".

He has worked as a teacher, journalist and travel writer.

His first poetry collection, New Light from the Old Dark, which deals with, among things, his experiences during a decade of heroin addiction and recovery, was published in 2009.

Brian Turner

Californian born poet Brian Turner is a former soldier, who served for seven years, part of which time was spent as an infantry team leader in Iraq.

His first collection, Here, Bullet, was inspired by his time on the front line, and went on to win numerous prestigious awards.

John Haynes

John Haynes has had a long career in education, and lectured at Nigeria's Ahmadu Bello University in the 1970s and 80s, where he founded the literary journal, Saiwa. After returning to the UK in the 80s he has continued teaching, writing and publishing and his poems have appeared widely.

His book length poem Letter to Patience won the Costa Poetry Prize in 2006.

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TS Eliot prize 2009
Friday, 15 January 2010, 07:45 GMT |  Today

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