Bhanu Kapil has won the 2020 T S Eliot Prize for her “radical and arresting” collection How to Wash a Heart (Pavilion Poetry), her first to be published in the UK.
She was announced as the £25,000 prize-winner at the end of a series of shortlist readings streamed from the Southbank Centre on Sunday 24th January.
Kapil was born in England to Indian parents, and grew up in a South Asian, working-class community in London. She lives in the UK and US where she has spent 21 years teaching at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.
She is the author of six books but How to Wash a Heart became her first collection to be published in the UK, when it was released last year by Pavilion Poetry, an imprint of Liverpool University Press. Drawn from a first performance at London's ICA in 2019, the book depicts the complex relations that emerge between an immigrant guest and a citizen host.
Judges Lavinia Greenlaw, Mona Arshi and Andrew McMillan chose the book from a 10-strong shortlist which included a mixture of established poets and relative newcomers including three debut collections.
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's possible for poetry to achieve.”
The ten shortlist titles; and some winners from previous years...
This year's winner!
Natalie Diaz£10.99 £10.22
Sasha Dugdale£11.99 £11.15
Ella Frears£10.00 £9.30
Will Harris£10.99 £10.22
Wayne Holloway-Smith£10.99 £10.22
Daisy Lafarge£10.99 £10.22
Glyn Maxwell£10.99 £10.22
J. O. Morgan£10.00 £9.30
Shane McCrae£10.99 £10.22
Roger Robinson£9.99 £9.29
Hannah Sullivan£10.99 £10.22
Ocean Vuong£12.00 £11.16
Jacob Polley£9.99 £9.29
Sarah Howe£10.00 £9.30
Sinead Morrissey£9.94 £9.24