Posted on 3 December 2010
The 2010 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize Winner, Elyse Fenton
American poet Elyse Fenton has been awarded this year’s £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for Clamor, her striking collection of 21st century war poetry.
Clamor, which was written in part while Fenton’s husband was deployed as a medic in Baghdad, is the first book of poetry ever to have won the title. She is the third person to have picked up the award, following Nam Le with The Boat in 2008 and Rachel Trezise with Fresh Apples in 2006.
Chair of Judges for the Prize, Peter Florence, made the announcement at an exclusive awards dinner held in Dylan Thomas’ hometown of Swansea and hosted by Welsh comedian and broadcaster, Chris Corcoran. The award, which is sponsored by the University of Wales, is designed to encourage creative talent in writers under the age of 30 and is open to any work, from any genre, which has been published in the English language.
Commenting on the announcement, Peter Florence said: “It’s a great winner. It’s an astonishing, fully accomplished book of huge ambition and spectacular delivery. For this Prize of all prizes it’s great to have a poet.”
Gwyneth Lewis, poet and member of the judging panel, said: “This is poetry of a very high order. The book’s vision of the relationship between love and war is more than worthy to be considered in the tradition of Dylan Thomas’ work.”
Professor Peter Stead, founder of the Dylan Thomas Prize, added: “I’m absolutely thrilled that a book of poetry has won the Dylan Thomas Prize. It’s a tremendously accomplished book and a very timely one. I urge everyone to read it.”
As one of six finalists, Fenton, who lives in Philadelphia, fought off stiff competition from writers hailing from five continents to win the Prize. She was selected by the Prize’s judging panel from a shortlist of poets and novelists, with the other five finalists consisting of British poet Caroline Bird, Nadifa Mohamed, from Somalia; Canadian Eleanor Catton; Indian-born Karan Mahajan and Scot Emily Mackie.
Professor Marc Clement, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Wales, said: “All the writers on this year’s short-list display great depths of talent and maturity in their work, but the winner’s poetry has that ‘something extra’, which takes the reader all the way from the personal to the universal. I am delighted to add my congratulations to those of the judges, and look forward to seeing more of Elyse’s work – and, indeed, more from all our six authors – in the future.”
Elyse Fenton and the five other shortlisted writers have been in Wales for the past week, taking part in the Prize’s newly extended education programme, DylanED. The writers visited a collection of schools and higher education institutions, delivering workshops to students and pupils across South Wales.
Another winner on the night was 22-year-old Stefan Mohamed, from Powys, who picked up the Prize’s inaugural £5,000 Sony Reader Award category for unpublished writers with his novel Bitter Sixteen.
The full shortlist for 2010 was:
Nadifa Mohamed, Black Mamba Boy
Eleanor Catton, The Rehearsal
Caroline Bird, Watering Can
Karan Mahajan, Family Planning
Elyse Fenton, Clamor
Emily Mackie, And This is True
The University of Wales
The University of Wales is a major national institution in Wales. It is committed to helping to fulfil the educational and economic needs of Wales and to supporting its linguistic, cultural, and national heritage. Looking beyond its distinctive Welsh responsibilities, the University is also committed to its international role and to enhancing its standing across the UK and overseas. To date, the University has awarded over 600,000 degrees to students worldwide and is the second largest degree-awarding body in the United Kingdom. To find out more please visit: www.wales.ac.uk