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UK poet Alice Oswald withdraws from T.S. Eliot Prize list, uncomfortable with sponsorship by investment firm

By Harriet Staff

The BBC reports some kerfuffle around the T.S. Eliot Prize, which awards £15,000 to a sole poet for a new collection of poetry and £1,000 to each of those shortlisted (we posted the list not too long ago), and was inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the UK Poetry Book Society’s 40th birthday and to honour its founding poet. Funded by T.S. Eliot’s widow, Valerie, and the late poet’s estate, a new sponsorship from investment company Aurum Funds has caused leading poet Alice Oswald to withdraw from this year’s competition. (The award recently lost its regular funding from the Arts Council.) More:

Oswald said: “I think poetry should be questioning, not endorsing, such institutions.”

She had been nominated for her Homer-inspired work, Memorial.

The poet added: “I’m uncomfortable about the fact that Aurum Funds, an investment company which exclusively manages funds of hedge funds, is sponsoring the administration of the Eliot Prize.”

Oswald previously won the TS Eliot prize in 2002 for her second collection, Dart.

The Poetry Book Society said on its website that it “regrets that Alice Oswald has withdrawn her collection” from the shortlist.

Oswald’s publisher, Faber & Faber, declined to comment.

Memorial is a re-working of Homer’s famous work, The Iliad.

The other poets shortlisted for the prestigious prize are John Burnside, Carol Ann Duffy, Leontia Flynn, David Harsent, John Kinsella, Esther Morgan, Daljit Nagra, Sean O’Brien and Bernard O’Donoghue.

The winner will be announced on 16 January at an awards ceremony in London….

The sponsorship money from Aurum – which also supports four other charities – goes towards management costs.


Posted in Poetry News on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 by Harriet Staff.