Fiona Benson wins Roehampton Poetry Prize

Fiona Benson
Fiona Benson

The Roehampton prize for the best poetry collection of the year has been awarded to Fiona Benson for her collection Vertigo & Ghost, published by Jonathan Cape – described by David Harsent as 

“a deep and compassionate engagement with human love and fear. No reader could leave this book unaffected or unchanged.”

Congratulations to Poetry Society Member Martina Evans, who was on the short list for Now We Can Talk Openly About Men (Carcanet)

The 2019 Prize was judged by poets Pascale Petit and W. N Herbert, and chaired by Professor David Harsent (Chair of the Roehampton Poetry Centre and winner of the 2014 TS Eliot Prize).

Announcing the shortlist, Professor Harsent said

“It’s commonplace for a chair of judges to say that selecting poetry collections for a shortlist was a near-impossible task given the quality of the books submitted. It’s often said, and is sometimes true. In this case, it was, indeed, a fearsomely difficult task. After working from personal long lists of ten to a collective list of the same number, we came, after much discussion, to an agreed shortlist, but at the expense of a number of books written by poets of outstanding ability – that was something else on which we were agreed. The books that finally made the shortlist are a testament to the wealth of poetic gift in the UK. The Roehampton Prize is a celebration of that depth of talent.”

The shortlist in alphabetical order (by author):

Fiona Benson: Vertigo & Ghost (Jonathan Cape)

Martina Evans: Now We Can Talk Openly About Men (Carcanet)

Lavinia Greenlaw: The Built Moment (Faber)

Zaffar Kunial: Us (Faber)

Sean O’Brien: Europa (Picador)

Richard Scott: Soho (Faber)

The prize is valued at £5,000 and is open to any collection of poetry in English, or first translation of a collection, not previously published in the UK. Collections published between 1 April 2018 and 31st March 2019 were eligible for this year’s prize, and poets of any nationality, living and working in the UK at the time of first publication were considered.

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13 June 2019