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Roger Robinson shortlisted for T.S Eliot Prize 2019

“As our deliberations progressed, the same titles kept coming to the fore, culminating in a list that brings together work by some of the finest and most fearless poets working today.” --John Burnside

We are pleased to announce that Roger Robinson has been chosen by judges John Burnside (Chair), Sarah Howe and Nick Makoha to be included in the 2019 T. S. Eliot Prize shortlist.

About the T. S. Eliot Prize

The T. S. Eliot Prize is run by The T. S. Eliot Foundation, and is the most valuable prize in British poetry - the winning poet will receive a cheque for £25,000 and the shortlisted poets will be presented with cheques for £1,500.

It is the only major poetry prize judged purely by established poets. The winner of the 2019 Prize will be announced at the Award Ceremony on Monday 13 January 2020, where the winner and the shortlisted poets will be presented with their cheques. 

Described as the ‘world’s top poetry award’ by the Independent, the prize is awarded annually to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland. Previous winners of the award include Ted Hughes, and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy.

The shortlist has been made up of 158 poetry collections submitted by British and Irish publishers. Featuring new voices and veteran poets, and covering an extraordinary range of themes, the shortlist comprises five men, four women and one trans non binary; one American, one Russian-American and one Canadian, as well as poets of Trinidadian, Cypriot and Sri Lankan backgrounds.

The T.S Eliot Prize shortlist readings will take place on Sunday 12th January 2020 in Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall as part of its literature programme. The shortlist readings are the largest annual poetry event in the UK and will be hosted once again by Ian McMillan.

About Roger Robinson

Roger Robinson is a writer and performer who lives between London and Trinidad. He has published two poetry pamphlets with flipped eye, Suitcase (2004) and Suckle (2009), which won the People’s Book Prize and the Oxford Brookes Poetry Prize. His first full poetry collection, The Butterfly Hotel (2013), was shortlisted for The OCM Bocas Poetry Prize and his second is A Portable Paradise (2019), both Peepal Tree Press. He is an alumni of The Complete Works and was a co-founder of both Spoke Lab and the international writing collective Malika’s Kitchen. He is the lead vocalist and lyricist for King Midas Sound. 

From A Portable Paradise:

Day Moon

It beckons, this spirit-filled mist,
like some earthly firmament; this quilted sage
and moss expanse can blank out a racist
boss; its trails will heal our trials and rage.

The Darkening Red of Your Blood

Realise that keeping yourself alive
is bigger than racism and disrespect. Keep alive,
young brothers, keep living.

Black Olive

She picks up the black olive and says Black olives are
better than the rest aren’t they. I love me some black olives
and she pops it into her mouth and suddenly I am in her mouth

A Portable Paradise is not the emptiness of material accumulation, but joy in openness to people, places, the sensual pleasures of food and the rewards to be had from the arts of word, sound and visual enticement – in short, an “insatiable hunger” for life. The poems express fierce anger against injustice, but also convey the irrepressible sense that Roger Robinson cannot help but love people for their humour, oddity, and generosity of spirit.

Listen to Roger talk about this collection on the Guardian Books Podcast.

Roger Robinson is on tour, check out the dates!

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