(Adds comments from Morrissey)
By Michael Roddy
LONDON Jan 13 Northern Irish poet Sinead
Morrissey won Britain's prestigious T.S. Eliot prize on Monday
for "Parallax", a collection that explores the nature of reality
and includes a poem inspired by watching a film while giving
Morrissey, who is the first poet laureate of Belfast and had
been shortlisted for the prize on three previous occasions, will
receive an award of 15,000 pounds ($24,600).
"I'm so delighted, it's a dream come true," she told Reuters
after the prize was announced at a ceremony held at London's
Hertford House, the home of the Wallace Collection of art.
Morrissey, whose winning collection examines the difference
between perception and reality, said she had no explanation for
why Northern Ireland, also the birthplace of late Nobel Prize
winner Seamus Heaney, was a fertile breeding ground for poets.
"I think there is something distinctive about Northern
Ireland and I think the poetry tradition from that very small
place with that very small population is extraordinary. Why that
is, I don't know," she said.
There was some sense beforehand that Morrissey might take
the prize this year after her previous appearances on the short
list. The judges were glowing in their praise of her work.
"Politically, historically and personally ambitious,
expressed in beautifully turned language, her book is as
many-angled and any-angled as its title suggests," prize jury
chairman Ian Duhig said.
Born in 1972 in County Armagh, Morrissey is the author of
five poetry collections: "There Was Fire in Vancouver" (1996);
"Between Here and There" (2002); "The State of the Prisons"
(2005); "Through the Square Window" (2009) and "Parallax"
One of the poems in her latest volume took its title from,
and was in part inspired by watching, the 1946 David Niven film
"A Matter of Life and Death", in which an aviator who is about
to die in a crash escapes death because of an error on the part
of the guide sent to take him to the afterlife.
She said the idea for the poem had come to her when she saw
the film while she was in labour having her first child.
"The coincidence of it being about life and death while I
was in that situation was too great an opportunity to pass up,"
The T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry, named for the author of
"The Waste Land" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", was
inaugurated in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th
birthday and honour its founding poet.
Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri, but became a
naturalised British citizen and was awarded the Nobel Prize in
Literature in 1948.
($1 = 0.6104 British pounds)
(Editing by Mark Trevelyan)