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T S Eliot Prize winner announced

14 January 2013

The winner of the 2012 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry has just been announced today. It's been won by Sharon Olds for Stag's Leap out of a ten-strong shortlist comprising collections from Simon Armitage, newcomer Sean Borodale , Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales, Julia Copus , Paul Farley, Kathleen Jamie, Jacob Polley, Deryn Rees-Jones and two distinguished American women poets, Jorie Graham and Sharon Olds.

It is the twentieth anniversary of the Prize, which was set up in 1993 by the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at to commemorate its founding father, and the prizes have been given every year by the poet's widow, Valerie Eliot, until her death last year. The winner receives £15,000 and, very generously, each shortlisted poet also gets £1,000 in recognition of their achievement.

Publishers enter the poets' collections for the Prize, which is not open to self-published work. Over the years it has grown in reputation and is now regarded as the top UK poetry prize, and the one that most poets most want to win.

The Prize's school shadowing scheme and reading groups schemes help promote poetry to young people and readers, but the T S Eliot Prize Readings, now in the Southbank's Royal Festival Hall, have also brought poetry to an increasingly wide and large audience. This year a new record was set, with a huge audience,  and the Readings, hosted by Ian McMillan and prefaced by Carol Ann Duffy, the Chair of the judges, reading a poem by T S Eliot, were a thrilling occasion. Nerve-racking for the poets, no doubt, but the extra adrenalin provided by the Prize tends to make most shortlisted poets produce outstanding readings and, surprisingly perhaps, they are not lost in the RFH's vast auditorium. This was an occasion which celebrated the best new work of the year and poetry's unique power to intrigue and enthral a huge audience.