Joelle Taylor Wins T.S. Eliot Prize

Joelle Taylor wins poetry’s most exclusive award, the T.S. Eliot Prize, for her poetry collection that looks at butch lesbian counterculture in the 1990s.

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Poetry’s most prestigious award has a new winner—Joelle Taylor has been awarded the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize for her poetry collection, C+nto & Othered Poems. Her in-depth and intricate look at butch lesbian counterculture in the 1990s was praised by the judges as “a blazing book of rage and light”. This is Taylor’s fourth collection and in winning the award, she is awarded £25,000.

Chair Glyn Maxwell praises Taylor’s winning collection as “a grand opera of liberation from the shadows of indifference and oppression.” Taylor’s collection is an intimate and personal exploration of the political landscape of a woman’s body. In winning the T.S. Eliot Prize, Taylor pushes a counterculture from the margins, bringing to life with lyrical precisness and emotive the deeply personal and history.

On her publisher’s website, The Westbourne Press, the poetry description is described as following:

“The female body is a political space.

C+nto enters the private lives of women from the butch counterculture, telling the inside story of the protests they led in the ‘90s to reclaim their bodies as their own – their difficult balance between survival and self-expression. History, magic, rebellion, party and sermon vibrate through Joelle Taylor’s cantos to uncover these underground communities forged by women.

Part-memoir and part-conjecture, Taylor explores sexuality and gender in poetry that is lyrical, expansive, imagistic, epic and intimate. C+nto is a love poem, a riot, a late night and an honouring.”

In winning the T.S. Eliot Prize, Taylor beat nine other wonderfully talented poets with highly competitive selections. On the shortlist for the 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize selection were equally superb poets like Raymond Antrobus, Kayo Chingonyi, and Selima Hill.

For the complete 2021 T.S. Eliot Prize shortlist, click here.