CAROL Ann Duffy, Professor of Poetry at Manchester Writing School, has been awarded this year’s PEN/Pinter Prize for writers who cast an “unflinching unswerving” gaze upon the world.
The £1000 prize was set up by the writers’ fellowship PEN International to commemorate the playwright Harold Pinter and takes as its criteria Pinter’s words on winning the Nobel Prize that a writer should have “a fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies.”
The Poet Laureate was chosen by a panel consisting of the playwright David Hare, novelist Margaret Drabble, writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg, author Antonia Fraser – who was married to Harold Pinter until his death in 2008 - and the president of English PEN Gillian Slovo.
Duffy is the fourth writer to be given the prize, following Hare, the novelist Hanif Kureishi and the poet Tony Harrison.
She will receive her prize on 8 October at an event at the British Library, where she will read several new poems as well as announce the name of the persecuted writer she has chosen to share the prize with.
She said: “I am hugely honoured and moved to receive an award which commemorates one of the greatest English writers of the 20th century.”
Fellow poet Michael Symmons Roberts, who teaches with Carol Ann at the Writing School, said: “The PEN/Pinter prize stands out because it doesn’t just reward literary achievement but political and cultural engagement, too. Carol Ann has been one of our most active and engaged poets for decaded and she is a very worthy winner of this prestigious prize.”
Dr Jess Edwards, head of the School of English at MMU, said: “Through the many public demands of the Laureateship, she has maintained her commitment to the University and to the schools and communities of the Northwest, not least in her leadership of the recent Manchester Children’s Book Festival. This prize celebrates an apt Laureate for the modern age: one who shines sharp poetic light on the ordinary and everyday. We’re immensely proud of her achievement in winning it, hard on the heels of another prestigious national award: the Costa Poetry Prize.”
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