A new voice who judges say “will change British poetry”, has won the TS Eliot poetry prize. Sarah Howe, a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute, was awarded the £20,000 prize for Loop of Jade, which explores her dual British and Chinese heritage.
Howe’s work – the first debut poetry collection to win the British prize since it was inaugurated in 1993 – triumphed over a particularly strong shortlist, which featured some of poetry’s biggest names, including Don Paterson, Claudia Rankine, Sean O’Brien and Les Murray.
Pascale Petit, the poet who chaired the panel of judges, said that 32-year-old Howe’s work was “absolutely amazing” and that her experimentations with form would “change British poetry”.
“She is exploring the situation of women in China, but she doesn’t do it just like that; she does it in a very erudite and dense, rich, imagistic way,” she said.
Especially impressive were Howe’s different and daring forms of poetry, and her powerful use of blank space, said Petit.