Heaney wins David Cohen prize
The David Cohen Prize for Literature 2009 has been awarded to Irish poet Seamus Heaney. The prize, worth £40,000, was presented by the chair of judges and Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion, at a ceremony hosted by the British Library.
Motion said: “The self-renewing force of his writing, and the sheer scale of his achievement make the award of the Cohen Prize an absolutely right and proper act of recognition.”
Heaney said: “Much about the David Cohen Prize makes it highly honorific: first of all there’s the list of the previous winners, a roll call of the best; there’s the fact that you don’t enter for it but are chosen from the wide field of your contemporaries; and then there’s the verification of that
reference to ‘lifetime achievement’ – a lovely reward when offered by a panel of such distinguished writers and readers.”
The biennial prize has previously been awarded to people including Harold Pinter, Doris Lessing, Beryl Bainbridge and Michael Holroyd.
The winner of the David Cohen Prize chooses the recipient of the Clarissa Luard Award, which is worth £12,500. Heaney chose to present this year’s Clarissa Luard Award to Poetry Aloud, an annual poetry speaking competition open to all post primary students in Ireland. The competition is run by the National Library in association with Poetry Ireland.
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