2007 proved to be a fantastic year for Professor Sean O'Brien. He was awarded the T S Eliot 2007 prize for his latest collection The Drowned Book on Sunday 13th January 2008. In October 2007 Sean won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and in March 2007 he was named as recipient of the Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award.
Creative writing professor and poet Sean O’Brien admitted he was ‘lost for words’ after becoming the first author ever to win the UK’s two top poetry awards in the same year.
He was awarded the 2007 TS Eliot prize this week, just a few months after winning the Forward prize for best collection for an unprecedented third time last October.
‘I was completely gobsmacked,’ he said, speaking shortly after receiving his award. ‘I didn’t think it was on the cards that I would win so it was a great surprise and a great honour to have won. For once in my life, I was actually briefly lost for words.’
In his prize-winning The Drowned Book , he delves into the imaginative depths of the industrial-northern landscape, exploring morality through our complex relationship with water, using murky and menacing language.
Professor O’Brien is now turning his attention to his current projects, which include finishing a novel and a book of short stories.
A strong shortlist for the TS Eliot prize included Fiona Sampson, editor of Poetry Review, and Scotland's 87-year-old poet laureate, Edwin Morgan.
The poet Peter Porter, who chaired the judging panel of WN Herbert and Sujata Bhatt, called Professor O'Brien ‘a major artist’ and described The Drowned Book as ‘fierce, funny and deeply melancholy’.
Professor O'Brien received a cheque for £15,000 from TS Eliot’s widow, Valerie, at the awards ceremony on Monday evening, which was held at the Wallace Collection in London.
The TS Eliot prize was set up in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday and honour its founding poet. It is awarded annually to the author of the best new single-author collection of poetry published in the UK or Ireland.
Professor Sean O'Brien
published on: 17th January 2008