Poet Roger Robinson has won this year’s prestigious Ondaatje prize for his collection, A Portable Paradise and a sum of £10,000. Prior to this, it had also won the TS Eliot prize. A report in The Guardian quotes judge and poet Pascale Petit who described the collection as “profoundly moving book [that] manages to balance anger and love, rage and craft”.
His moving collection addresses the Grenfell Tower fire and goes forth, even dedicating to black British poet Zena Edwards and her mother.
“Every poem surprises with its imagery, emotional intensity and lyric power, whether dealing with Grenfell, Windrush or a son’s difficult birth, which is also a tribute to a Jamaican nurse,” Petit added.
— Royal Society of Literature (@RSLiterature) April 30, 2020
Robinson, who won £10,000, was quoted as saying, “Winning the RSL Ondaatje Prize is great on many levels. Gaining wider recognition for the political issues that are raised in A Portable Paradise is one of the most important things for me, alongside more people reading about the struggles of black communities in Britain which hopefully creates some deeper resonating empathy.”
Robonson’s book was competing with Elif Shafak’s 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World, Robert Macfarlane’s Underland: A Deep Time Journey, Tishani Doshi’s Small Days and Nights, Jumoke Verissimo‘s A Small Silence and Jay Bernard’s Surge.
The Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize is an annual literary award awarded to a work of poetry, fiction, non-fiction that is written by someone who has been a resident n the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland. It is given by the Royal Society of Literature.