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Raymond Antrobus becomes first poet to win Rathbones Folio prize

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The Perseverance, using the writer’s experience of deafness to explore human communication, was praised by judges as ‘exceptionally brave and kind’

Raymond Antrobus has become the first poet to win the £30,000 Rathbones Folio prize, taking the award for his “exceptionally brave and kind” exploration of the deaf experience, The Perseverance.

The Jamaican-British spoken-word poet, who was diagnosed as deaf at the age of six, was up against seven other books. The prize is intended to reward “the best work of literature of the year, regardless of form”, and this year’s shortlist included Diana Evans’s Women’s prize-shortlisted novel Ordinary People, and Ashleigh Young’s collection of essays Can You Tolerate This?. But in the end, judges said the Antrobus’s poems, which move from his childhood diagnosis to his late father’s alcoholism, edged ahead of close contender Mary Anne Sate, Imbecile, a verse narrative by Alice Jolly.

Related: Generation next: the rise – and rise – of the new poets

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