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Alice Oswald withdraws from T. S. Eliot Prize

6th December 2011

Alice Oswald has withdrawn her book Memorial from the GBP 15,000 T. S. Eliot Prize because of her discomfort with the award's new sponsor.

Oswald was shortlisted for the annual prize in October and was believed to be a strong contender, but has asked to be removed after it was announced that investment management company Aurum Funds would sponsor the award from next year.

Although the GBP 15,000 winner's cheque and GBP 1,000 runner-up prizes are funded by Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot and the T. S. Eliot estate, Aurum will cover the cost of managing the award for the next three years.

However, Oswald, whose new book is a re-telling of Homer's Iliad from a contemporary perspective, said poets should be questioning the role of such companies, not endorsing them.

'I'm uncomfortable about the fact that Aurum Funds, an investment company which exclusively manages funds of hedge funds, is sponsoring the administration of the Eliot Prize. For that reason, I'm withdrawing from the Eliot shortlist,' she explained.

The Poetry Book Society, which loses its Arts Council funding at the end of this financial year and made the decision to obtain Aurum's sponsorship, said it would not comment on Oswald's withdrawal.

The winner of the 2011 T. S. Eliot Prize will be announced on January 15th next year.

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