Prize chair Lavinia Greenlaw said: “Our shortlist celebrated the ways in which poetry is responding to profound change, and the stylistic freedom that today’s poets have claimed. From this impressive field, we unanimously chose Bhanu Kapil’s How to Wash a Heart as our winner. It is a radical and arresting collection that recalibrates what it’s possible for poetry to achieve.”
Bhanu responded: “I am honoured to have won the T.S. Eliot prize, and have already, this morning, made a sculpture (from the fresh snow and some red food colouring) of a frozen heart. Perhaps, by the time I have finished this sentence, it will have begun to melt. I am so grateful to the judges, and to the other poets on the shortlist, for the chance to think through planetary and lived relations of many kinds. In proximity, our individual gestures become communal, perhaps. My heart is full.”
Pavilion Poetry is curated by Deryn Rees-Jones, who said of Bhanu’s win: “The opportunity to publish Bhanu’s first UK book was enormously exciting and a great privilege. I was introduced to her work by my colleague Sandeep Parmar a few years ago, and we have been teaching Bhanu’s work in the English department at the University of Liverpool for several years.”
Alison Welsby, Liverpool University Press’s Editorial Director, added: “Everyone at Liverpool University Press and Pavilion Poetry are delighted that Bhanu Kapil’s How To Wash a Heart has won the T.S. Eliot Prize for 2020. Kapil captures the ongoing stress for the immigrant so brilliantly, the limits of hospitality, the question of belonging, and we are honoured her exceptional poetry has been recognised by the judges.”
The T. S. Eliot Prize is run by The T. S. Eliot Foundation. It is the most valuable prize in British poetry and the only poetry prize which is judged purely by established poets – this year’s judges were Lavinia Greenlaw (Chair), Mona Arshi and Andrew McMillan. Bhanu will receive the prize money of £25,000 and each shortlisted poet will receive £1,500 in recognition of their achievement in winning a place on the most prestigious shortlist in UK poetry.
For more information on this year’s shortlist, including videos of the poets, new reviews and readers’ notes, and the Prize in general, please visit the T. S. Eliot Prize website.
This prize win follows the recent success of other Pavilion poets – Martha Sprackland’s Citadel was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Book Award 2020 while Lieke Marsman, author of The Following Scan Will Last Five Minutes (translated by Sophie Collins) was just appointed the new Poet Laureate of the Netherlands. Congratulations to Martha and Lieke!