Harsent wins TS Eliot poetry prize
David Harsent, a 72-year-old poet, has won the TS Eliot Prize after being shortlisted five times.
The writer, who also enjoys a successful career as the author of detective novels under the pseudonyms David Lawrence and Jack Curtis, was awarded the £20,000 prize for his latest collection of poetry, Fire Songs.
The son of a bricklayer, he began writing poems at night after leaving school at 16 to work in a bookshop.
He has published 11 collections of poetry, including Legion (2005), which won the Forward Prize, and Night (2011) , which was shortlisted for the Costa prize.
Chairwoman of the judges Helen Dunmore, a poet, novelist and children's writer, said: "David Harsent is a poet for dark and dangerous days. Fire Songs plumbs language and emotion with technical brilliance and prophetic power."
Also a librettist, Harsent, whose wife is former Casualty actress Julia Watson, has collaborated on operas and song cycles with Sir Harrison Birtwistle.
He is a professor of creative writing at the University of Roehampton and has written for TV dramas such as Holby City, Midsomer Murders and The Bill.
Awarded annually to the writer of the best new poetry collection published in the UK or Ireland, the TS Eliot Prize launched in 1993 to celebrate the Poetry Book Society's 40th birthday, and to honour its founding poet.