Anthony Joseph wins TS Eliot Prize for ‘luminous’ collection of sonnets

The TS Eliot Prize has been awarded to poet Anthony Joseph for his “luminous” collection Sonnets For Albert.

The prize, which was inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society’s 40th birthday and to honour its founding poet, is awarded annually to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland.

After a record submission of 201 collections, judges Jean Sprackland, Hannah Lowe and Roger Robinson chose 56-year-old Joseph from a shortlist of 10.

He will be awarded a prize of £25,000 and each shortlisted poet will receive £1,500.

Sonnets for Albert by Anthony Joseph
Sonnets for Albert by Anthony Joseph (TS Eliot Prize/PA)

The judges chose the winner from a varied shortlist comprising seasoned poets, including one previous winner, and five debut collections.

Ms Sprackland said: “Each of the 10 books on this year’s shortlist spoke powerfully to us in its own distinctive voice.

“From this strong field our choice is Anthony Joseph’s Sonnets For Albert, a luminous collection which celebrates humanity in all its contradictions and breathes new life into this enduring form.”

Joseph, who was born in Trinidad and lives in London, is the author of five poetry collections and has also written three novels and released eight albums as a musician.

He was the Colm Toibin Fellow in creative writing at the University of Liverpool in 2018, and is a lecturer in creative writing at King’s College London.

The other works on the shortlist were Fiona Benson’s Ephemeron, Jemma Borg’s Wilder, Quiet by Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Philip Gross’s The Thirteenth Angel, England’s Green by Zaffar Kunial, Slide by Mark Pajak, James Conor Patterson’s bandit country, Denise Saul’s The Room Between Us and Manorism by Yomi Sode.

Last year the TS Eliot Prize was awarded to Joelle Taylor for her collection C+nto & Othered Poems.