Robin Robertson wins Roehampton Poetry Prize for The Long Take

Robin Robertson © Niall McDiarmid
Robin Robertson
© Niall McDiarmid

The winner of the fourth annual Roehampton Poetry Prize for best poetry collection of the year is Robin Robertson’s The Long Take, published by Picador. 

The award was founded to support poets of every nationality and age who live and work in Britain during the year their books were published. Each year, the eligible poetry collections published in the year from 1st April to 1st April are read by a panel of external judges, and chaired by a member of the Roehampton Poetry Centre. This year’s judges were Fiona Benson and Nathalie Teitler, and the panel was chaired by Professor David Harsent.

Professor Harsent commented: ‘Each of the books shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize had made a strong case for inclusion and no less a case to take the prize. (Indeed, two of our choices won major awards while under discussion with us.) There were no makeweights and no afterthoughts; as we moved towards our final decision, each of the books was the subject of close reading and detailed discussion. They should all be on the ‘must read’ list of anyone wanting to get the best in recent poetry.

The judges’ unanimous decision was that Robin Robertson’s verse novel, The Long Take, should be awarded the prize. An account of a war veteran stranded – both emotionally and geographically – in mid-twentieth century America, the book trades off film noir to give a fierce and affecting account of that man’s journey. The book’s depth of vision, its compositional attack, its urgency (it carries a distinct contemporary relevance) and the way in which events both societal and personal propel the story, make for a narrative that is, by turns, savage, troubling, challenging, and never less than compelling.’

The shortlisted titles for this year’s Prize included Kayo Chingonyi’s Kumukanda (Chatto & Windus), Sinéad Morrissey’s On Balance (Carcanet), Pascale Petit’s Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe), Hannah Sullivan’s Three Poems (Faber) and Ahren Warner’s Hello. Your Promise Has Been Extracted (Bloodaxe).

Previous winners of the Roehampton Poetry Prize include Denise Riley’s Say Something Back, John Glenday’s The Golden Mean, Sean O’Brien’s The Beautiful Librarians and Carole Satyamurti’s Mahabharata.

The Roehampton Poetry Centre encourages the writing, reading and study of poetry and aims to bring living poetry into the heart of the University’s English and Creative Writing curriculum. Students are excited and inspired by working alongside the very best poets in Britain and the world.

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24 May 2018