Roger Robinson, the British-Trinidadian dub poet, has won the prestigious £25,000 TS Eliot prize on his first nomination for his collection A Portable Paradise.
Robinson, who splits his time between London and Trinidad, is a longtime performer of dub poetry and has served as a mentor to many successful writers, including poet and playwright Inua Ellams. The author of three poetry collections and two pamphlets, Robinson was named the TS Eliot winner on Monday night for A Portable Paradise, which is published by Peepal Tree Press, an independent publisher. Tackling racism, violence and the Grenfell Tower fire, as well as moments of joy and beauty, the collection is built on observations of ordinary daily life.
The poet John Burnside, chair of the judges, praised A Portable Paradise for “finding in the bitterness of everyday experience continuing evidence of ‘sweet, sweet life’.”
Robinson triumphed on a 10-book shortlist that included previous winner Sharon Olds, this year’s Forward prize winner Fiona Benson, and the acclaimed young poets Jay Bernard and Ilya Kaminsky. Burnside praised the entire shortlist as “ambitious and wide-ranging” and said he and his fellow judges – poets Sarah Howe and Nick Makoha – had been “very proud” of the shortlist.
Congratulations to Roger and everyone shortlisted! Discuss the themes of A Portable Paradise and raise a glass to this great collection at our TS Eliot Book Club on Monday 20 January.