John Kinsella quits TS Eliot award

A second poet withdraws from shortlist for £15,000 award over it's sponsorship by a hedge fund.

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The Independent Culture

John Kinsella has joined Alice Oswald by withdrawing from the TS Eliot Prize shortlist over its sponsorship by a hedge fund firm.

John Kinsella, whose poetry collection 'Armour' was in the running for the £15,000  TS Eliot poetry award, joined Alice Oswald in condemning the Poetry Book Society's sponsorship from the hedge fund Aurum. "The business of Aurum doesn't sit with my personal politics and ethics...Hedge funds are at the very pointy end of capitalism, if I can put it that way," he said.

"I am grateful to Alice Oswald for bringing the sponsorship of the TS Eliot Prize to my attention," said Kinsella in a statement released by his publisher. "I regret that I must do this at a particularly difficult time for the Poetry Book Society but the business of Aurum does not sit with my personal politics and ethics. I am grateful to everyone at the PBS for all they have done to promote my work and that of poetry in general."

He told The Bookseller"My politics and ethics are such that I can't accept money from such a source. I fully understand why the Poetry Book Society has looked elsewhere for funding, given the horrendous way they were treated, but as an anti-capitalist in full-on form, that is my position."

The Poetry Book Society lost its Arts Council funding earlier this year, in a move that the poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy said caused poets and readers a "sense of anger and grief". It then secured a three-year sponsorship contract with Aurum.

The Poetry Book Society's vice-chair Desmond Clarke said: "I respect the decision of Alice and John to withdraw as it's their right, but I think it is misguided," he said. "All our pension funds use investment managers such as Aurum, and Aurum's clients include the pension funds of the public sector and not for profit organisations. For some time financial institutions such as Man, EFG and Duncan Lawrie, the private bank that supports Arvon, have sponsored prizes, literary festivals and competitions."

Eight poetry collections remain in the running for the prize:

John Burnside's Black Cat Bone, Carol Ann Duffy's The Bees,  Leontia Flynn with Profit and Loss,  David Harsent's Night, Esther Morgan with Grace,  Daljit Nagra Tippoo's collection Sultan's Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!! Sean O'Brien's November and Bernard O'Donoghue's collection Farmers Cross.

The PBS declined to comment further.