Newcomer Wins [Pounds Sterling]15,000 Poetry Prize after Tragic Death of Rival; Tribute: Mick Imlah Died Last Night Recognition: Jen Hadfield Has Won Poetry's Most Prestigious Award for Her Second Collection, Nigh-No-Place

The Evening Standard (London, England), January 13, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Newcomer Wins [Pounds Sterling]15,000 Poetry Prize after Tragic Death of Rival; Tribute: Mick Imlah Died Last Night Recognition: Jen Hadfield Has Won Poetry's Most Prestigious Award for Her Second Collection, Nigh-No-Place


Byline: LOUISE JURY

A NEWCOMER has beaten favourites Glyn Maxwell and Mick Imlah to take one of the most prestigious prizes in poetry.

But the victory of 30-year-old Jen Hadfield from Shetland was tinged with sadness after her rival Imlah died only hours before the TS Eliot Prize ceremony in London last night.

Hadfield, who won the [pounds sterling]15,000 prize with her second collection Nigh-No-Place, said: "It buys me quite a lot of [writing] time." But she said she was sad to win in such circumstances.

Scottish Imlah, 52, a poetry editor at the Times Literary Supplement, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease just over a year ago and published his own second collection, The Lost Leader, as the illness struck. It was 20 years after his acclaimed debut.

Andrew Motion, chairman of the TS Eliot Prize judges, said at the ceremony in Skinner's Hall that Hadfield was "a remarkably original poet near the beginning of what is obviously going to be a distinguished career".

He paid tribute to Imlah, a father-of-two, who he had known for more than 30 years since meeting at Oxford University.

"He was one of the cleverest, most interesting, amazing, talented and sweet-natured people I have ever met," said Motion.

Andy Burnham, the Culture Secretary, thanked Valerie Eliot, the poet's widow, for funding the prize in the name of "one of this country's towering literary figures".

Hadfield, who was born in Cheshire, published her first collection of work Almanacs in 2005.

After winning the Eric Gregory Award she undertook a year's residence in Canada to give readings of her work. She used her experiences in Canada as well as her life in Shetland to inspire her Nigh-No-Place.

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Newcomer Wins [Pounds Sterling]15,000 Poetry Prize after Tragic Death of Rival; Tribute: Mick Imlah Died Last Night Recognition: Jen Hadfield Has Won Poetry's Most Prestigious Award for Her Second Collection, Nigh-No-Place
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