Thursday, 2 December 2010


Elyse Fenton
Pic: James Davies
American poet Elyse Fenton (29) was awarded the third £30,000 Dylan Thomas Prize last night for her disquieting debut poetry collectionClamor which powerfully charts the distance, intricacies, intimacies and harsh realities of love across a landscape of the Iraq war, between the frontline in Baghdad and the homefront in America.
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, which has so far gone to two short story writers:  Nam Le with The Boat in 2008 and Rachel Trezise with Fresh Apples in 2006.
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. Chair of Judges for the Prize, Peter Florence, made the announcement at the awards dinner held in Dylan Thomas’ hometown of Swansea: ‘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.’
Fenton has picked up a number of accolades for Clamor, including the 2009 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize and the 2008 Pablo Neruda Award from Nimrod International Literary Journal. She received her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. As one of six finalists, Fenton, who lives in Philadelphia, fought off strong contenders hailing from five continents to win the Prize – British poetCaroline BirdNadifa Mohamed, from Somalia; Canadian Eleanor Catton; Indian-born Karan Mahajan and Scot Emily Mackie.

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