Hannah Lowe and Selima Hill on T S Eliot Prize Shortlist

Hannah Lowe and Selima Hill on T S Eliot Prize Shortlist


Selima Hill's twentieth book of poetry Men Who Feed Pigeons and Hannah Lowe's third collection The Kids were both shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2021.  The shortlist was announced by Chair of Judges Glyn Maxwell at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on14 October 2021, and he announced the winner Joelle Taylor was announced at a ceremony in London on 10 January.

The £25,000 prize is the most valuable in British poetry and has received a record 177 submissions this year.  The judges are poets Glyn Maxwell, Caroline Bird and Zaffar Kunial. 

Chair of Judges Glyn Maxwell said:

‘We are delighted with our shortlist, while lamenting all the fine work we had to set aside. Poetry styles are as disparate as we’ve ever known them, and the wider world as threatened and bewildered as any of us can remember. Out of this we have chosen ten books that sound clear and compelling voices of the moment. Older and younger, wiser and wilder, well-known and lesser-known, these are the ten voices we think should enter the stage and be heard in the spotlight, changing the story.’

The full shortlist can be seen on the T S Eliot Prize website here.

The T S Eliot Prize weekly newsletter has featured each title in turn.  Subscribe here.

T S Eliot Prize blogger John Field's review of The Kids is here.  His review of Selima Hill's Men Who Feed Pigeons is here.

You can download Readers' Notes for both titles from the T S Eliot website here.

The T S Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings took place on Sunday 9th January 2022 in the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall. The shortlist readings were hosted once again by Ian McMillan. Hannah read in person, and Ruth Padel read poems on Selima Hill's behalf.   Audio of the T S Eliot Prize Readings is now available here.

Extracts from the T S Eliot Prize Readings were broadcast on BBC Radio 3's The Verb on 14 January 2022, also hosted by Ian McMillan.  Listen here (Hannah from 6:33 and Selima Hill introduced at 20:55.  Ruth Padel read on behalf of Selima Hill).

The winner of the 2021 T S Eliot Prize wase announced at a private Award Ceremony at the Wallace Collection  in London on Monday 10th January 2022, where the prize-winner and the shortlisted poets were presented with their cheques. All shortlisted authors receive £1,500.

Feature in The Guardian on the 2021 shortlist: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/oct/14/ts-eliot-prize-unveils-voices-of-the-moment-in-2021-shortlist

Feature in The Bookseller: https://www.thebookseller.com/news/cape-poetry-and-bloodaxe-dominate-t-s-eliot-prize-shortlist-1284518


All ten shortlisted titles were reviewed by Tristram Fane Saunders in The Telegraph of 8 January 2022 ahead of the T S Eliot Prize Readings and Award Ceremony of 9 and 10 January.  Read here.

Both The Kids and Men Who Feed Pigeons were recommended and discussed by Andy Miller on episode 154 of the Backlisted podcast of 10 January 2022.

The Kids is discussed from 7.07 and Men Who Feed Pigeons from 27:54.  They are both mentioned again later as part of a discussion about Victoria Kennefick's debut (from 45:47), which is also on the T S Eliot Prize shortlist.  Listen here.



Hannah Lowe reads 'John 1: Pink Humming Bird' from her collection The Kids


Hannah Lowe talks about her work


Selima Hill's Men Who Feed Pigeons brings together seven contrasting but complementary poem sequences by ‘this brilliant lyricist of human darkness’ (Fiona Sampson) relating to men and different kinds of women’s relationships with men.  Selima Hill grew up in a family of painters in farms in England and Wales, and has lived in Dorset for the past 40 years. Her 2008 Bloodaxe retrospective Gloria: Selected Poems was followed by eight further collections.  Her 20th collection Men Who Feed Pigeons was published by Bloodaxe on 16 September 2021, and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection as well as the T S Eliot Prize.

Hannah Lowe's third collection The Kids was also published by Bloodaxe on 16 September 2021. It is the Poetry Book Society's Choice for Autumn 2021 and won the Costa Poetry Award 2021.  Hannah Lowe taught for a decade in an inner-city London sixth form. At the heart of this book of compassionate and energetic sonnets are fictionalised portraits of ‘The Kids’, the students she nurtured. But the poems go further, meeting her own child self as she comes of age in the riotous 80s and 90s, later bearing witness to her small son learning to negotiate contemporary London.  Across these deeply felt poems, Lowe interrogates the acts of teaching and learning with empathy and humour. Social class, gender and race – and their fundamental intersection with education – are investigated with an ever critical and introspective eye. These boisterous and musical poems explore the universal experience of what it is to be taught, to learn and to teach. Her previous two Bloodaxe collections are Chick (2014), winner of the 2015 Michael Murphy Prize, and Chan (2016).

A video of Bloodaxe's joint live-streamed launch with Hannah Lowe and Selima Hill (along with Stephanie Norgate) is below.


Selima Hill gave a rare interview to The Poetry Review Podcast in April 2021. She read a number of poems from her 20th collection Men Who Feed Pigeons and was in conversation with Emily Berry, Editor of The Poetry Review.  Listen to this delightful conversation here.


Hannah Lowe was a guest on BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking on 16 September 2021.  She was discussing ideas of belonging with host Shahidha Bari and fellow guests Akram Khan, Tash Aw and Eleanor Lybeck, and read from her just-published third collection The Kids.  Hannah contributes at 2.56 and 29.02. She is interviewed from 15.31. Listen here.

Links to other interviews with Hannah and reviews of The Kids are on Bloodaxe's news page here.


Live-streamed launch reading on 16 September 2021 with Hannah Lowe, Selima Hill and Stephanie Norgate

Hannah and Stephanie read from and discussed their books live.  Selima Hill's contribution was audio, taken with permission, from The Poetry Review podcast above, accompanied by screen shares of the poems she read.

[14 October 2021]

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