Congratulations to Roger Robinson, who has won the 2019 T.S. Eliot Prize with A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree Press)! Chair John Burnside said “Roger Robinson’s characters bear witness to a country where ‘every second street name is a shout out to my captors’. Yet though Robinson is unstinting in his irony, he also gives us glimpses of something that his chosen protagonists also refuse to surrender – a taste, through the bitterness, of ‘life, of sweet, sweet life’.”
Shortlisted for the £25,000 prize alongisde Robinson were Anthony Anaxagorou for After the Formalities (Penned in the Margins), Fiona Benson for Vertigo & Ghost (Cape), Jay Bernard for Surge (Chatto & Windus), Paul Farley for The Mizzy (Picador), Ilya Kaminsky for Deaf Republic (Faber & Faber), Sharon Olds for Arias (Cape) Vidyan Ravinthiran for The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here (Bloodaxe), Deryn Rees-Jones for Erato (Seren), and Karen Solie for The Caiplie Caves (Picador). Each recieves £1,500 for their shortlisting.
Roger Robinson wrote a manifesto for the autumn 2017 issue of The Poetry Review, entitled “Success is on you”. In this, he offers some prescient advice:
“It’s the small things that are going to get you the big things. Were you courteous and kind, were you detailed, enthusiastic and on time?
Poets: you have to try and break tradition while at the same time referencing tradition. It’s hard to do and it takes some strength of craft. You have to realise that success will fall into the hands of the poets who are distrupters. What are you about to disrupt in your field?”