Belfast poet Michael Longley is one of ten poets shortlisted for the prestigious 2014 TS Eliot Prize, having impressed the judging panel with his latest collection,The Stairwell, published in August 2014 by Jonathan Cape.
One of the fabled Belfast Group of writers – which also included Seamus Heaney, Stewart Parker and Paul Muldoon, among others – Longley has pedigree in the competition, having won the TS Eliot Prize in 2000 with The Weather in Japan.
The news comes on the Prize's 21st birthday, and is further recognition of work produced by Northern Irish poets, coming a year after Belfast-born poet Sinéad Morrissey won the prize for her collection Parallax.
'After reading more than a hundred poetry collections the three judges for this year's TS Eliot Prize were delighted, and excited, by the quality of the work submitted,' said chair Helen Dunmore, who, along with fellow judges Sean Borodale and Fiona Sampson, considered a total of 113 collections.
'Our shortlist reflects the musicality, mastery and ambition of these ten chosen poets. It's worth saying that while our discussions were searching, our decisions were in all cases unanimous. As one judge said when we surveyed the pile of shortlisted books at the end of our meeting: "This is a box-set I'd love to have".'
This year the TS Eliot Estate, now sole sponsor for the Prize, has increased prize money to £20,000, with the ten shortlisted poets all guaranteed £1,500. The winner of the 2014 Prize will be announced at an award ceremony at the Wallace Collection, Southbank Centre on January 12.
TS Eliot Prize Readings will take place on January 11 in Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall. The shortlist readings are the largest annual poetry event in the UK.