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Jason Allen-Paisant Wins T.S. Eliot Prize
Tuesday, 16 Jan 2024
Jason Allen-Paisant has won the T.S. Eliot Prize for his latest collection, Self-Portrait as Othello!
The T.S. Eliot Prize is given annually to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK and Ireland. Now in its 30th year, the 2023 shortlist was selected by Paul Muldoon (Chair), Sasha Dugdale and Denise Saul. It is widely regarded as the most prestigious poetry prize in the world, and the only major poetry prize judged purely by established poets.
Jason was announced as the winner at a ceremony at the Wallace Collection in London, on Monday 15th January. Praising the collection, the judging panel said: 'Self-Portrait As Othello is a book with large ambitions that are met with great imaginative capacity, freshness and technical flair... It takes real nerve to pull off a work like this with such style and integrity. We are confident that Self-Portrait as Othello is a book to which readers will return for many years'.
We'd also like to congratulate Kit Fan and Joe Carrick-Varty, who were both shortlisted for the award - it's fantastic to see Northern talent recognised and awarded!
The interlocking poems of his second collection, Self-Portrait as Othello, imagine Othello in the urban landscapes of modern London, Paris and Venice and invent the kinds of narrative he might tell about his intersecting identities. Poetic memoir and ekphrastic experiment, Self-Portrait as Othello focuses on a character at once fictional and real. Othello here represents a structure of feeling that was emerging in seventeenth-century Venice, and is still with us.
Portraiting himself as Othello, Allen-Paisant refracts his European travels and considers the Black male body, its presence, transgressiveness and vulnerabilities. Othello's intertwined identities as 'immigrant' and 'Black', which often operate as mutually reinforcing vectors, speak to us in the landscape of twenty-first-century Europe.
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