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Stirling professor picks up prestigious Costa poetry prize

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Kathleen Jamie The Overhaul
Kathleen Jamie (photo by Eamonn McCabe)

The University of Stirling’s Professor Kathleen Jamie has been presented with the 2012 Costa Poetry Award.

Kathleen, who is Chair in Creative Writing at Stirling, won the award for her collection The Overhaul, which the judges described as being the “collection that will convert you to poetry.”

The collection, which beat 83 other entries, is Kathleen’s first collection since her award-winning The Tree House was published in 2004Commenting on the award, Kathleen says: “I'm delighted with the win. It’s a marvellous thing to see poetry in its proper place - central to our culture, and acknowledged alongside the other genres. I'm glad I'm not judging the final winner, though. How to compare?”

She adds: “It’s been quite a while since I published a book of poems.  One does have to spend some time in the wilderness with nothing to write and one always begins to doubt oneself. But to be validated like this, and enjoy a wee bit of glamour makes up for it. It makes me feel I'm on the right track.”

Her Poetry Award was announced by Costa this week, alongside the announcement of winners in the Novel, First Novel, Biography and Children’s Book categories.

The Costa Book Awards recognise some of the most outstanding and enjoyable books of the last year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.  This year, for the first time ever in the competition, a female winner features in every category. The winners are as follows:

• Husband and wife team Mary and Bryan Talbot, who jointly win the Costa Biography Award for Dotter of Her Father’s Eyes.

• Hilary Mantel, who takes the Costa Novel Award for Bring up the Bodies, which won the 2012 Man Booker Prize.

• Journalist, critic and writer Francesca Segal, whose debut novel The Innocents wins the Costa First Novel Award.

• Writer-illustrator and dyslexia campaigner, Sally Gardner, takes the Costa Children’s Book Award for Maggot Moon.

• Poet Kathleen Jamie wins the Costa Poetry Award for her book The Overhaul, of which judges said they were “blown away by the power of its simplicity.”

Kathleen and the other successful writers will now compete for the 2012 Costa Book of the Year title. 

The winner, selected by a panel of judges chaired by Dame Jenni Murray, and comprising Jenny Agutter, Katie Derham, Mark Watson, Sophie Ward, Wendy Holden, D.J. Taylor, Daljit Nagra and Marcus Sedgwick, will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on 29 January 2013.


  • The Overhaul, published by Picador, has also been shortlisted for the prestigious TS Eliot Prize (the winner of which will be decided on 14 January).
  • One of Kathleen Jamie’s poems has been chosen to be inscribed on the timber ring beam which crowns the iconic rotunda monument at the Bannockburn heritage site, after all ten works were put to a public vote.
  • More about Kathleen Jamie and the Creative Writing programme at Stirling here
  • More about the Costa Book Awards here

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