The Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize 2014

The co-winners of the 50th annual Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize are Bright Travellers by Fiona Benson and Black Country by Liz Berry

The 2014 judges were Julia Copus, Ruth Padel and Max Porter.

The judges said:

‘Having enjoyed many collections and discussed them in depth, the judges are unanimous in choosing two equal winners for 2014, Liz Berry’s Black Country and Fiona Benson’s Bright Travellers.

‘Fiona Benson’s poems are piercingly vivid contemporary lyrics: the violence and loss work hiddenly, a dark echo chamber behind tenderly controlled lines that radiate a classic, but always original, grace. ‘Moonlight – trapped / between the snow still falling and the white earth – / is luminous from our sloped roof to the firs / that edge the common land . . . // What would I give / to be one of the swimmers in all this snow . . . ? / Would I give myself to the wind?’ [‘Toboggan Run’]

‘Liz Berry’s language and forms are daring, exhilarating, wholly original. Her poems toss their head and gallop off into new territory in a beautiful and gutsy evocation of the places (in several senses) of childhood, dark sexual awakenings, enchanted union, and the miracle of the here and now. ‘I am precious to you as a native tree: a hornbeam / a beautiful sapling of a thing you fence off from children / with a special rope. You lie all night in my shivering roots / tongue tracing the knots of my tongue until you bloom / from every cell’ [‘Woodkeeper’]

‘Both are debut collections which have won other awards. The fascinatingly different ways in which their language and vision shine reflect the astonishing quality and variety of poetry written today – especially, we are delighted to report, by women.

About the poets:

Fiona_benson_author_book Fiona Benson’s pamphlet was published as part of the Faber New Poets series in 2009. Her first full-length collection, Bright Travellers (Jonathan Cape, 2014), won the Seamus Heaney Prize for first collection, and was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize. Fiona lives in Devon with her husband, James Meredith, and their daughters, Isla and Rose.





Liz_berry_bio_book_picLiz Berry was born in the Black Country and lives in Birmingham. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2009, a Jerwood/Arvon Mentorship in 2011, and won the Poetry London competition in 2012. Her pamphlet The Patron Saint of Schoolgirls was published by tall-lighthouse in 2010. Her poems have appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and have been broadcast on BBC Radio and recorded for the Poetry Archive. Liz’s debut collection, Black Country (Chatto & Windus, 2014), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award, and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014.

About the prize:

The Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize is a prize of £1,500 awarded annually to a writer under the age of 40 at the time of publication. It is given on alternate years for a volume of verse and for a volume of prose fiction; 2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the prize and is awarded for a volume of poetry. The conditions governing the award of the prize are set out in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook.

Previous Winners:

1964     Christopher Middleton and George Macbeth (joint)

1965     Frank Tuohy

1966     Jon Silkin

1967     William McIlvanney and John Noone (joint)

1968     Seamus Heaney

1969     Piers Paul Read

1970     Geoffrey Hill

1971     J. G. Farrell

1972     Tony Harrison

1973     David Storey

1974     John Fuller

1975     Richard Wright

1976     Douglas Dunn

1977     Carolyn Slaughter

1978     David Harsent and Kit Wright (joint)

1979     Timothy Mo

1980     Hugo Williams and George Szirtes (joint)

1981     J. M. Coetzee

1982     Tom Paulin and Paul Muldoon (joint)

1983     Graham Swift

1984     James Fenton

1985     Julian Barnes

1986     David Scott

1987     Guy Vanderhaeghe

1988     Michael Hofmann

1989     David Profumo

1990     Michael Donaghy

1991     Carol Birch

1992     Paul Muldoon

1993     Will Self

1994     John Burnside

1995     Livi Michael

1996     Kathleen Jamie

1997     Emily Perkins

1998     Don Paterson

1999     Gavin Kramer

2000     Kathleen Jamie

2001     Trezza Azzopardi

2002     Greta Stoddart

2003     Justin Hill

2004     Glyn Maxwell

2005     David Mitchell

2006     Alice Oswald

2007     Ed Docx

2008     Nick Laird

2009     David Szalay

2010     Kona Macphee

2011     Belinda McKeon

2012     Jacob Polley

2013     Eimear McBride