You are here

Raymond Antrobus wins Rathbones Folio Prize

Raymond Antrobus continues an extremely strong 2019, winning the £30,000 Rathbones Folio Prize just a few months after he was announced as the winner of the Ted Hughes Award. It is the first time the Folio prize – which rewards the best work of literature of the year, regardless of form – has been awarded to a poet.

The 33-year old Jamaican-British spoken-word poet, who was diagnosed as deaf at the age of six, was up against seven other books. This year’s shortlist included Diana Evans’s Women’s prize-shortlisted novel Ordinary People, and Anna Burns's Milkman which won the Man Booker last year.

The 2019 judges were the poet, writer and teacher Kate Clanchy, the London-based Mexican writer Chloe Aridjis, and the author, poet and playwright Owen Sheers. Chair Kate Clanchy said: “We chose eight books we loved, in different genres, and deciding between them was painful. In the end it came down to two books and a tense vote.” But Antrobus’s The Perseverance came out on top.

In the end, though, we agreed on Raymond Antrobus’ ‘The Perseverance’, an immensely moving book of poetry which uses his D/ deaf experience, bereavement and Jamaican/British heritage to consider the ways we all communicate with each other. It’s an exceptionally brave, kind book,: it seemed, in our atomised times, to be the book we most wanted to give to others, the book we all needed to read.
Kate Clanchy, chair

The Perseverance ranges across history and continents to explore issues as wide-ranging as the poet’s diagnosis with deafness as a child, mixed heritage experience, masculinity, and his beloved father’s alcoholism and later decline into dementia and death. The book contains a fierce challenge of Ted Hughes’s description of deaf children, making it particularly poignant when it was given the Ted Hughes Award. The collection has also been shortlisted for the Griffin Prize, the Jhalak Prize, and the Somerset Maugham Award.