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Burnside wins TS Eliot Prize

Professor John Burnside of the University of St Andrews School of English has won the highest accolade in British poetry – the TS Eliot Prize.

Professor Burnside saw off competition from a heavyweight shortlist including Britain’s poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy and British writer Sean O’Brien to pick up the £15,000 prize at a ceremony in central London last night for his collection, “Black Cat Bone”.

He was presented with the cheque by Valerie Eliot, widow of the poet, who has funded the prize itself since it was launched 18 years ago.

The TS Eliot Prize was described by former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion as “the prize most poets want to win”, with previous winners including Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney.

Gillian Clarke, chair of the judging panel, called Burnside’s winning work a “haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness. In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading.”

The prize is awarded annually by the Poetry Book Society to the best collection published in the UK and Ireland.

Professor John Burnside is a former winner of the Forward Prize, Geoffrey Faber Prize, Whitbread poetry prize, Saltire Book of the Year Prize and the Sundial/SAC non-fiction book of the year award.

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