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Poet David Harsent wins prestigious TS Eliot prize

A striking collection of poems called Fire Songs by Roehampton’s Professor of Creative Writing, David Harsent, has won the renowned TS Eliot Prize, one of the most admired in the poetry world.

Posted: 19 January 2015

Professor Harsent has previously been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize, including for an earlier collection called Night, which subsequently won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. He read excerpts from Fire Songs at a high-profile event at the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank last weekend, before his success was announced at the Wallace Collection in Central London yesterday evening.

A review of his collection published in The Independent newspaper in August said: “Fire Songs teems with images and ideas that manage to be both richly detailed and vividly musical, from ‘the sopping bud’ of a dead Christ's heart to an alliterative ‘scorch on corn and kale’. The wide-ranging word-choice is consistently surprising and beautiful.” The article described Professor Harsent’s work as having and ‘urgent as well as striking vision’.

Poet, writer and critic Helen Dunmore, chair of the judging panel, described Professor Harsent as "a poet for dark and dangerous days". She said: "Fire Songs plumbs language and emotion with technical brilliance and prophetic power." The other judges were Sean Borodale and Professor Fiona Sampson. 

Professor Harsent joined the University of Roehampton as Professor of Creative Writing in September 2013, and chairs the Roehampton Poetry Centre. As well as winning the Griffin International Prize, his book, Legion, won the Forward Prize for best collection in 2005. He is also a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

He supervises PhD students and teaches masterclasses at the University of Roehampton, and last year co-hosted a seminar on creative writing at Wimbledon Book Fest, of which the University is a partner.

The department of English and Creative Writing at Roehampton offers rich and varied professional writing courses specialising in fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction and fiction for Young Readers.

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