The 2023 RSL Ondaatje Prize winner was revealed as Anthony Anaxagorou for Heritage Aesthetics (Granta Poetry) on Wednesday 10 May.
Anthony Anaxagorou said: “Thank you so much to the judges for seeing the book, for seeing the intention, the vision of trying to bring Cyprus and the UK together. Cyprus has always been very peripheral when it comes to colonial history – it was only made independent in 1960, very late on within Britain’s project to decolonialise (although there are two British Army bases still there). I hope by having the book seen in this way it will bring more readers to Cyprus and to the UK.
Samira Ahmed said: “Anthony’s poetry is beautiful, but does not sugarcoat. The arsenic of historical imperial arrogance permeates the Britain he explores in his writing. And the joy of this collection comes from his strength, knowledge, maturity, but also from deeply felt love.”
Roger Robinson said: “With Heritage Aesthetics Anthony Anaxagorou lets the narrative of the poems fracture as if somehow there has been a traumatic event, and that fracture became a form by deconstruction of texts and literatures to make comment not only on them but also on the fact that Cyprus has been shaped by 2000 years of colonial rule. A colonial rule that has caused multiple fractures in the nation’s identity, problematising the idea of familial identity but also how colonial histories have shaped that identity; a lineage of family but also a lineage of suffering under Empire.
Most books dealing with the immigrant experience look back at their country of origin with longing, and mythologising their origin country, but Anaxogorou’s book maintains a strong tone, critique and assessment. A welcome addition to the literature canon of place.”
Joelle Taylor said: “A book that pushes the confines of form and language to locate a new aesthetic with which to address the legacies of colonisation. A tour guide, an archive, a personal meditation on belonging. Beautiful.”
Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His second collection After the Formalities (Penned in the Margins) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize and was also a Telegraph and Guardian poetry book of the year. Anthony is artistic director of Out-Spoken, a monthly poetry and music night held at London’s Southbank Centre, and publisher of Out-Spoken Press.
For more details on the Prize, visit the main page here.