Belfast poet laureate Sinead scoops TS Eliot Prize for fifth collection, Parallax

Belfast poet laureate Sinead Morrissey
Belfast poet laureate Sinead Morrissey

Sinéad Morrissey has won the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry for her latest collection Parallax (published by Carcanet) which she wrote as an Arts Council of Northern Ireland Major Individual Award recipient in 2012 and which explores themes of identity, gender, motherhood and love.

The TS Eliot Prize is awarded by the Poetry Book Society and is worth £15,000 making it the UK’s most valuable annual poetry competition.

Announced at a ceremony on Monday (January 13) in London and chosen from an elite shortlist of 10, Sinead’s fifth collection explores the unsettling paradoxes of skewed or partial perspectives.

Welcoming the news, the Arts Council’s head of literature and drama, Damian Smyth, said: “Sinéad has for 15 years been an outstanding voice in contemporary poetry in English and we are delighted that, once again, her work is being recognised at the highest levels.

“Four of her poetry collections have to date been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize – including Parallax – so it is extremely rewarding to see her hard work and literary brilliance recognised.

“The TS Eliot Prize has been won in recent years by many great Irish poets, including Seamus Heaney in 2006, so Sinéad is keeping good company.”

British poet Ian Duhig, chair of the final judging panel, said: “In a year of brilliantly themed collections, the judges were unanimous in choosing Sinéad Morrissey’s Parallax as the winner. Politically, historically and personally ambitious, expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests.”

Considered by many to be the top English language poetry award, previous Irish winners of the TS Eliot prize have included Seamus Heaney (2006), Michael Longley (2000), Paul Muldoon (1994) and Ciaran Carson (1993).

In claiming the prize, Sinead beat off strong competition from two previous winners, Anne Carson and George Szirtes.