Lancaster professor in line for top poetry prize

Professor Paul Farley
Professor Paul Farley. Photograph by Jennifer Kuhfeld

A Lancaster University professor has been shortlisted for the 2019 T S Eliot Prize.

Professor Paul Farley’s most recent volume of poetry, The Mizzy (Picador), is one of just ten volumes, selected from more than 150 poetry collections, to make the shortlist for the 2019 T. S. Eliot Prize. 

The T. S. Eliot Prize was inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday and to honour its founding poet.

It is regarded as one of the world’s top poetry awards and is firmly established as the most valuable and prestigious prize in the UK for a new collection of poetry.

It is awarded annually to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland.

Described as ‘the prize most poets want to win’, it is distinctive among poetry prizes in being judged by a panel of established poets.

Judges John Burnside (Chair), Sarah Howe and Nick Makoha have chosen the 2019 T. S. Eliot Prize shortlist from 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 extraction.

John Burnside said: “In an excellent year for poetry, the judges read over 150 collections from every corner of these islands and beyond… Each had its own vital energy, its own argument to make, its own celebration or requiem to offer, and we knew that settling upon ten from so many fine books would be difficult.

“Nevertheless, 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.”

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 winner now receives £25,000 and the ten shortlisted poets each receive £1,500.

The prizes will be announced at an award ceremony on Monday 13th January 2020, where the winner and the shortlisted poets will be presented with their cheques.

For more information on this year’s shortlist, visit the T. S. Eliot Prize website at

Previous winners include: Lancaster University’s Distinguished Visiting Professor Paul Muldoon, Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.

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