The last 12 months in poetry have definitely belonged to Sean O'Brien. After winning the Forward prize for best collection an unprecedented third time in October, the poet was tonight named the winner of the 2007 TS Eliot prize,
Inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday and honour its founding poet, the TS Eliot prize is awarded annually to the author of the best new single-author collection of poetry published in the UK or Ireland.
In The Drowned Book, O'Brien, who was born in Hull, returns to the industrial-northern
landscape so familiar to his readers, following the paths of clogged and our debased relationship with water in murky and menacing language. He triumphed over a strong shortlist that included Fiona Sampson, the editor of Poetry Review, for Common Prayer, and Scotland's
87-year-old poet laureate, Edwin Morgan, for A Book of Lives. The poet Peter Porter, who chaired the judging panel of WN Herbert and Sujata Bhatt, called
O'Brien "a major artist" and described The Drowned Book as "fierce, funny and deeply melancholy".
O'Brien, who now lives in Newcastle where he is professor of creative writing at Newcastle University, received a cheque for £15,000 at tonight's ceremony, held at the Wallace
Collection in central London. The purse is a £5,000 increase on last year's
award, making the TS Eliot the biggest poetry prize in the UK. For the first
time in the prize's history, the shortlisted poets also received cheques of
£1,000 each, in recognition of their work. The cheques were presented by
Valerie Eliot, widow of TS Eliot, who donates the prize fund. Last year's
prize was won by Seamus Heaney for his collection, District and Circle.
and Carol Ann Duffy.