Poetry lecturer among ‘finest and fearless’ T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist

Karen Solie in the running for the UK’s most lucrative prize for poets

The winner of the T.S Eliot Prize is announced on January 13, 2020

The winner of the T.S Eliot Prize is announced on January 13, 2020

Creative writing lecturer Karen Solie has been shortlisted for the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize – the most valuable award in British poetry.

A judging panel of established poets selected Solie’s latest collection The Caiplie Caves among a ten-strong shortlist of “some of the finest and most fearless poets working today.”

Described as “the prize most poets want to win” by former Poet Laureate Sir Andrew Motion, the winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize receives £25,000 and a place among an esteemed roster of previous recipients, including Professor Carol Ann Duffy DBE and Seamus Heaney.

Solie joined the Manchester Writing School earlier this year following an illustrious literary career in her native Canada. The Caiplie Caves is her second UK collection, after The Living Option: Selected Poems, released in 2013.

Wonderful gift

She said: “I am shocked to find myself counted among the writers on the T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist, and very grateful. It's come completely out of the blue, and is a wonderful gift. I'm so looking forward to meeting the poets I haven't yet, and to hearing everyone read.”

Reflecting on her early impressions of working at Manchester Metropolitan, she added: “It's a happy time particularly because I'm here in Manchester, among my stellar English and Creative Writing colleagues. 

“I've loved and studied work by the writers of Manchester Metropolitan's Manchester Writing School for years. It's an honour to work alongside them. And it turns out that not only is the Writing School full of writers among the best anywhere, it is a warm and welcoming place to work. I can't thank everyone enough for their advice and fellowship.”

Astonishing work

Professor Michael Symmons Roberts, Professor of Poetry at Manchester Metropolitan, who was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2013, said: “We are delighted to see Karen’s book on the Eliot Prize shortlist.

“The Caiplie Caves is a profound, ambitious and astonishing work. Her poetry already has an international reputation, but this shortlisting will help to bring her writing to new readers and audiences.

“Karen is the latest in a long line of established and acclaimed poets to join the Manchester Writing School, and with our new Poetry Library opening next year, this is an exciting moment in the development of poetry at Manchester Met.”

The T.S Eliot Prize for Poetry was inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society’s 40th birthday and honour its founding poet, and is awarded annually to the author of the best new collection of poetry published in the UK and Ireland. This year’s shortlist was selected from over 150 submitted collections by judging panel John Burnside, Sarah Howe and Nick Makoha.

I am shocked to find myself counted among the writers on the T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist, and very grateful. It's come completely out of the blue, and is a wonderful gift.

Burnside, chair of the panel, said: “Each had its own vital energy, its own argument to make, its own celebration or requiem to offer, and we knew that settling upon ten from so many fine books would be difficult.

“Nevertheless, as our deliberations progressed, the same titles kept coming to the fore, culminating in a list that brings together work by some of the finest and most fearless poets working today.”

The winner of the 2019 T.S. Eliot Prize will be announced on January 13, 2020. The day before, The T. S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings will take place in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall – the largest annual poetry event in the UK.

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