Anthony Joseph has won the TS Eliot prize for his collection Sonnets for Albert, described as “luminous” by the judges.
Joseph takes the £25,000 poetry prize, which this year saw a record 201 submissions.
Chair of judges Jean Sprackland, who was joined on the panel by 2021 Costa book of the year winner Hannah Lowe and 2019 TS Eliot prize winner Roger Robinson, said each of the shortlisted books “spoke powerfully to us in its own distinctive voice”.
“From this strong field our choice is Sonnets for Albert, a luminous collection which celebrates humanity in all its contradictions and breathes new life into this enduring form,” she added.
Sonnets for Albert, which was shortlisted for the Forward prize for best collection last year, is an autobiographical collection that weighs the impact of growing up with a largely absent father.
Reviewing the book in the Guardian, David Wheatley said that “after much silence and absence in life”, Joseph’s father was “painstakingly restored in death in a book-length ‘calypso sonnet’ sequence”.
Joseph is a poet, novelist and musician, and a lecturer in creative writing at King’s College London.
He is the author of five poetry collections and three novels, including Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon, which was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness prize and the Royal Society of Literature’s Encore award and was longlisted for the 2019 OCM Bocas prize for Caribbean literature. He has also released eight critically acclaimed albums.
Joseph was chosen as the winner from a shortlist of 10 collections. The others shortlisted included five debut poetry collections: Quiet by Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Slide by Mark Pajak, bandit country by James Conor Patterson, The Room Between Us by Denise Saul and Manorism by Yomi Sode.
Also shortlisted were previous winner Philip Gross for The Thirteenth Angel, Fiona Benson for Ephemeron, Jemma Borg for Wilder and Zaffar Kunial for England’s Green.
The 2021 prize was awarded to Joelle Taylor for her collection C+nto & Othered Poems.