Bhanu Kapil wins T.S. Eliot Prize at digital awards ceremony

The Poetry Society congratulates Bhanu Kapil, the winner of the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize for How to Wash a Heart (Pavilion Poetry/Liverpool University Press, 2020). Bhanu Kapil was unveiled as the winner at a digital awards ceremony for the Awards presented by Southbank Centre on 24 January, hosted by Ian McMillan.

Chair Lavinia Greenlaw, who judged the Prize alongside Mona Arshi and Andrew McMillan, said, “Our shortlist celebrated the ways in which poetry is responding to profound change, and the stylistic freedom that today’s poets have claimed. From this impressive field, we unanimously chose Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart as our winner. It is a radical and arresting collection that recalibrates what it’s possible for poetry to achieve.”

Bhanu Kapil was born in England to Indian parents, and she grew up in a South Asian, working-class community in London. She lives between the UK and the US, where she spent 21 years at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. She is the author of six books of poetry/prose: The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006), humanimal (Kelsey Street Press, 2009), Schizophrene (Nightboat, 2011), Ban en Banlieue (Nightboat, 2015) and How to Wash a Heart (Pavilion Poetry 2020), her first collection to be published in the UK, which was a Poetry Book Society Choice. In 2016 she contributed a powerful essay to The Poetry Review’s Omphalos series which can be read online here.

The T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize shortlist also included: Natalie Diaz for Postcolonial Love Poem (Faber); Sasha Dugdale for Deformations (Carcanet); Daisy Lafarge for Life Without Air (Granta); Glyn Maxwell for How the hell are you (Picador); Shane McCrae for Sometimes I Never Suffered (Corsair); J.O. Morgan for The Martian’s Regress (Cape); Wayne Holloway-Smith, National Poetry Competition winner and Geoffrey Dearmer Prize winner, for Love Minus Love (Bloodaxe); Will Harris, past guest editor of The Poetry Review, for RENDANG (Granta); and Ella Frears, commended in the National Poetry Competition, for Shine, Darling (Offord Road Books). 

The T. S. Eliot Prize, run by The T. S. Eliot Foundation, is the most valuable prize in British poetry, with the winning poet receiving the prize of £25,000 and the shortlisted poets each receiving £1,500.

Read Bhanu Kapil’s essay from The Poetry Review

25 January 2021