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Kim Moore wins the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for Poetry 2016

The winner of the annual Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize 2016 for poetry is The Art of Falling by Kim Moore

This year’s judges, Gillian Clarke, Tom Gatti and Katharine Towers, said:

‘From the urgent, questioning proposition of the first line of the first poem, Kim Moore’s debut collection undertakes and sustains a compelling engagement with language. Her memorable image-making allows nothing to be ordinary, and her lines sing with the beauty of the familiar made startlingly new (such as the dragonflies which she makes into “tiny bottles whirring around”).

There is admirable ambition and a generosity that takes in the whole of the world, affirming it all to be worthy of poetry’s invigorating attention. Rarer still, perhaps, is Moore’s command of a poem’s closing moments – she knows when to leave quietly and when to jolt the heart.

Few write as well as Moore of the limitations and transformations of the body – its animal nature that speaks to the crow or wolf; its ability to internalise the landscape (to “grow a sloping woodland in your heart”); its fragility and ability to attract and absorb pain, to be “translated by violence”. The physicality of her verse runs – fresh, funny and fearful – through this collection, whether singing a psalm for bare-chested scaffolders, teaching the trumpet or undoing a boxer’s punches.

The Art of Falling is a collection in the real sense of the word – Moore’s poems accrue force and vigour as they speak to each other across the pages, delivering a thrilling encounter with language at its most irresistible and essential. Poetry is not just words. It is word-music. This collection offers the cadences language needs to pass thought and image into memory.’

Gillian Clarke, Tom Gatti, Katharine Towers

About the author

Kim Moore lives in Barrow, Cumbria. She has an MA from Manchester Metropolitan University. Her poems have been published in the TLS, Poetry Review, Poetry London, and elsewhere. She regularly appears at festivals and events; her prize-winning pamphlet If we could speak like wolves (Smith-Doorstop) was chosen as an Independent Book of the Year in 2012 and was shortlisted for other prizes. Moore won an Eric Gregory Award in 2011 and the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2010. In 2014 she won a Northern Promise award. A former brass music teacher and member of a blues band, she writes a thoughtful blog and has a wide social media following. The Art of Falling (Seren) is her debut collection.

About the judges

Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales 2008–2016, President of Tŷ Newydd, the Welsh Writers Centre. In 2010 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. Picador published Selected Poems in 2016. Her latest collection, Zoology (2017), is published by Carcanet.

Tom Gatti is culture editor of the New Statesman. Before joining the NS he was Saturday Review editor at The Times, where he also wrote book reviews, features and interviews. He has judged prizes including the Goldsmiths and the PEN Pinter, and chaired events with writers such as George Saunders and Zadie Smith.

Katharine Towers has published two poetry collections, both with Picador. The Floating Man (2010) was awarded the Seamus Heaney Centre Prize and a poem from the collection appeared as one of the Poems on the Underground. The Remedies (2016) was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.

About the prize

The Prize of £l,500 is awarded annually, and it is given, in alternate years, for a volume of verse and for a volume of prose fiction. It is given to that volume of verse or prose fiction first published originally in this country during the two years preceding the year in which the award is given which is, in the opinion of the judges, of the greatest literary merit.

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

2014       Fiona Benson and Liz Berry

2015       Sara Baume