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The TS Eliot prize was awarded to Jamaican poet Jason Allen-Paisant for his work "Self-Portrait as Othello".

The TS Eliot prize was awarded to Jamaican poet Jason Allen-Paisant for his work “Self-Portrait as Othello”.

Jason Allen-Paisant, a poet from Jamaica, has been awarded the TS Eliot prize for his collection, Self-Portrait As Othello. The collection delves into themes of Black masculinity and the experience of being an immigrant.

During a ceremony held at the Wallace Collection in London, Allen-Paisant was declared the recipient of the £25,000 prize.

“The panel of judges, consisting of poets Paul Muldoon, Sasha Dugdale, and Denise Saul, described Self-Portrait As Othello as a highly ambitious book that exhibits remarkable creativity, originality, and technical skill.”

Allen-Paisant’s second book, published by Carcanet Press, won the Forward prize for best collection in October and has been nominated for the Writers’ prize (formerly known as the Rathbones Folio prize). It was also recognized as one of the Guardian’s top poetry books of 2023.

The judges noted that the poetry in “Self-Portrait as Othello” is performed with dramatic flair and utilizes various voices and styles, spanning different locations and time periods. They commended the author for their boldness in executing the work with such grace and authenticity. The judges have no doubt that this book will continue to captivate readers for years to come.

In his work “Self-Portrait As Othello,” Allen-Paisant links Shakespeare’s Othello, a Moorish leader who faces discrimination in Venice, to the modern-day experiences of Black immigrants. His poetry travels through various locations such as Jamaica, Prague, Paris, and Oxford, and incorporates phrases in French, Jamaican patois, Italian, and German.

Fiona Sampson, a writer for the Guardian, praised the collection for its thorough exploration of masculinity and its recognition of the importance of motherhood in Caribbean and other cultures. She also noted the historical research that enriches the work and its celebration of representation, understanding, and communication as powerful forms of resistance.

Allen-Paisant is a senior lecturer in critical theory and creative writing at the University of Manchester. His first collection, Thinking With Trees, was published in 2021. His non-fiction book, Scanning the Bush, will be published in 2024. He lives in Leeds with his wife and two children.

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Some other poets who were selected as finalists for this year’s award are Kit Fan for his work The Ink Cloud Reader, Jane Clarke for A Change in the Air, and Sharon Olds for Balladz.

The TS Eliot award was founded in nineteen ninety-three. Past recipients include Ted Hughes, Don Paterson, Carol Ann Duffy, and Ocean Vuong. Anthony Joseph was announced as the 2022 honoree for his compilation titled Sonnets for Albert.

Source: theguardian.com