Helen Dunmore wins Costa Book of the Year

Helen Dunmore
Helen Dunmore

Inside the Wave by the late poet and author Helen Dunmore has won 2017 Costa Book of the Year. The collection, Dunmore’s tenth, explores the borderline between the living and the dead, and the exquisitely intense being of both, and includes her final poem, ‘Hold out your arms’, written shortly before her death on 5 June 2017, aged 64. Wendy Holden, chair of the final judges, said: “We all felt this is a modern classic; a fantastic collection, life affirming and uplifting. The poems carry powerful messages that speak to all of us.”

Dunmore is the second writer to take the overall Costa prize posthumously in the Award’s 46-year history. Ted Hughes posthumously won the Poetry Award and Book of the Year in 1998 for Birthday Letters. Inside the Wave is the eighth collection of poetry to take the overall prize. Past winners include Christopher Reid’s A Scattering, which won in 2009, and Jo Shapcott’s Of Mutability, which won in 2010.

Helen Dunmore won the National Poetry Competition in 2009 with her poem ‘The Malarkey’, a poem she described as about “what time takes away and how we take time for granted”. She published ten poetry collections through Bloodaxe Books, and was one of Bloodaxe’s very first published poets. Her second collection, The Sea Skater (1986), won The Poetry Society’s Alice Hunt Bartlett Award; The Raw Garden (1988) was a Poetry Book Society Choice, and Bestiary (1997) was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. Her collection of poems for children, Secrets (The Bodley Head, 1995), won the Signal Award for Poetry. She was a prolific and acclaimed short story writer and novelist; her novel, Zennor in Darkness (Penguin, 1993), won the McKitterick Prize, and A Spell of Winter (1995) won the inaugural Orange Prize for Fiction.

For more information, visit www.costabookawards.com

31 January 2018