John Burnside has been named winner of the TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, his second major awards victory in less than six months.
Accepting it he told Channel 4 News: “The strength of the shortlist was remarkable, to be selected from that group of people is quite special.
“I think I chose the right title because Black Cat Bone is a talisman for luck and success. Maybe that helped!”
The Scottish writer, who also won the £10,000 Forward Prize in October, was presented with a cheque for £15,000 at a ceremony at the Haberdashers’ Hall in central London.
I think I chose the right title because Black Cat Bone is a talisman for luck and success. Maybe that helped! John Burnside
Gillian Clarke, who chaired the judging panel, said: “Amongst an unprecedentedly strong and unusually well-received shortlist, John Burnside’s Black Cat Bone is a haunting book of great beauty, powered by love, childhood memory, human longing and loneliness.
“In an exceptional year, it is an outstanding book, one which the judges felt grew with every reading.”
This year’s prize proved controversial when two poets, John Kinsella and Alice Oswald, withdrew because of its sponsorship by an investment company, Aurum, which stepped in to support the prize after it lost its Arts Council funding.
Burnside told Channel 4 News: “I think poetry should challenge conventional ideas… societal conditioning on all kinds of levels.
“In this book I wanted to challenge ideas that people have about romantic love, about what it means to successful in relationships, the questions that relate to power in relationships. There are other kinds of questions to ask, of course. “
“But I think these are also political questions.”
The Scot, 56, has written short stories, novels and two volumes of memoirs as well as poetry. He is a former writer in residence at Dundee University and teaches at the University of St Andrews.