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Anthony Joseph

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Anthony Joseph
Anthony Joseph, 2016
Anthony Joseph, 2016
Born (1966-11-12) 12 November 1966 (age 57)
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
OccupationPoet, novelist, musician and academic
Alma materGoldsmiths College, University of London
Notable worksKitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon (2018); Sonnets for Albert (2022)
Notable awardsT. S. Eliot Prize

Anthony Joseph FRSL (born 12 November 1966)[1] is a British/Trinidadian poet, novelist, musician and academic. In 2023, he was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize for his book Sonnets for Albert.


Anthony Joseph at Rudolstadt-Festival 2017

Joseph was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad, where he was raised by his grandparents. He began writing as a young child and cites his main influences as calypso, surrealism, jazz, the spiritual Baptist church that his grandparents attended, and the rhythms of Caribbean speech. Joseph has lived in the United Kingdom since 1989.

In September 2004 he was chosen by Renaissance One and Arts Council England as one of 50 Black and Asian writers who have made major contributions to contemporary British literature, appearing in the "A Great Day in London" photograph and performing at the event at the British Library.[2][3] In April 2005, he served as the British Council's first poet-in-residence at California State University, Los Angeles.[4]

Joseph holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths College, University of London.[5] He has taught at London Metropolitan University, University of Surrey Roehampton, South Thames College,[6] and Birkbeck College.[7]

Joseph is the author of the poetry collections Desafinado (1994), Teragaton (1997), Bird Head Son (2009) and Rubber Orchestras (2011). His debut novel, The African Origins of UFOs, was published by Salt Publishing in November 2006. Described as an "afro-psychedelic-noir, a poetic work of metafiction, mythology and afro-futurism",[citation needed] the book was endorsed by Kamau Brathwaite, Linton Kwesi Johnson, and Lauri Ramey, who hailed it in her introduction as "a future fiction classic". Reviewing the book, Ali Alizadeh called Joseph "both a faithful heir and an agnostic rebel; a Black poet haunted by Africa's past as well as a bilingual post-modernist amused by the possibilities of the future. Contemporary literature doesn't come a lot more sophisticated and intriguing than this."[8] Joseph received an Arts Council award to conduct a reading tour of the UK in support of the book. In 2007, the tour continued to Europe with a 10-city tour of Germany and readings in the US.

Joseph also performs and records as a spoken-word vocalist. His debut album with The Spasm Band band Leggo de Lion was released in April 2007 by Kindred Spirits. His collection of poetry, Bird Head Son, was published by Salt Publishing in February 2009, coinciding with the release of his album Bird Head Son. The album was recorded over two days in Meudon, France, with guests Keziah Jones, Joseph Bowie, and vibraphonist David Neerman. Joseph's album Rubber Orchestras was released in August 2011. His poetry collection, also entitled Rubber Orchestras, was published by Salt Publishing in November 2011. Time, his first solo album, was released on 3 February 2013. It was produced by American bassist and singer Meshell Ndegeocello. He has also guested on albums by Mop Mop and Adam Pierończyk.

In 2012, Joseph represented Trinidad and Tobago at the Poetry Parnassus Festival on London's South Bank Centre.[9] He has also performed with Jerry Dammers' Spatial AKA Orchestra.[10]

Caribbean Roots was released in June 2016 by Strut Records and Heavenly Sweetness.[11] In 2018 Peepal Tree Press published his novel Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon.[12] Kitch was shortlisted for the Republic of Consciousness Prize, the Royal Society of Literature's Encore Award, and long listed for the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature. In 2019, his third novel, The Frequency of Magic was published, also by Peepal Tree Press.[13]

In 2022, Joseph's collection Sonnets for Albert was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection.[14][15]

In 2023, he was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize for Sonnets for Albert, judged by Jean Sprackland (chair), Hannah Lowe and Roger Robinson,[16] who described the book as "a luminous collection which celebrates humanity in all its contradictions and breathes new life into this enduring form".[17][18]

Joseph is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at King's College London.[19][20]

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2023.[21]

Awards and honours[edit]



  • Desafinado, Poison Engine Press, 1994, ISBN 0-9524152-0-8
  • Teragaton, Poison Engine Press, 1997, ISBN 0-9524152-1-6
  • The African Origins of UFOs, Salt Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-84471-272-9
  • Bird Head Son, Salt Publishing, 2009, ISBN 1-84471-435-7
  • Rubber Orchestras, Salt Publishing, 2011, ISBN 1-84471-819-0
  • Kitch: A Fictional Biography of a Calypso Icon, Peepal Tree Press, 2018, ISBN 9781845234195
  • The Frequency of Magic, Peepal Tree Press, 2019, ISBN 9781845234553
  • Sonnets for Albert, Bloomsbury, 2022 ISBN 978-1526649942


  1. ^ Jurek, Thom. "Anthony Joseph". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  2. ^ Levy, Andrea (18 September 2004), "Made in Britain. To celebrate the impact of their different perspectives, 50 writers of Caribbean, Asian and African descent gathered to be photographed. Andrea Levy reports on a great day for literature", The Guardian.
  3. ^ Le Gendre, Kevin (17 October 2004), "Books: A great day for a family get together Who are the movers and shakers in black British writing? And can they all fit on one staircase?", The Independent on Sunday.
  4. ^ "About Anthony Joseph". British Council. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  5. ^ "Anthony Joseph: Biography". British Council. Archived from the original on 11 April 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Kindred Spirits | Artists". Archived from the original on 11 December 2013. Retrieved 9 December 2013.
  7. ^ "Bio". Anthony Joseph. 20 June 2014. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  8. ^ "Ali Alizadeh Reviews Anthony Joseph | Cordite Poetry Review". Cordite.org.au. 8 March 2007. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  9. ^ "Anthony Joseph: Poetry Parnassus". South Bank Centre. Archived from the original on 16 August 2012. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  10. ^ Chick, Stevie (21 July 2014). "Jerry Dammers's Spatial AKA Orchestra (and Reggae Ensemble) review – profound, ecstatic and moving". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 October 2022.
  11. ^ "Anthony Joseph's Caribbean Roots". Strut Records. 23 May 2016. Retrieved 29 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Kitch" at Peepal Tree Press.
  13. ^ "The Frequency of Magic" at Peepal Tree Press.
  14. ^ "ANTHONY JOSEPH In conversation with Forward Arts Foundation". Forward Arts Foundation. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  15. ^ "Anthony Joseph". Elise Dillsworth Literary Agency. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  16. ^ Shaffi, Sarah (16 January 2023). "Anthony Joseph wins TS Eliot prize for 'luminous' poetry collection". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  17. ^ Evans, Connie (18 January 2023). "Anthony Joseph wins TS Eliot Prize for 'luminous' collection of sonnets". Evening Standard.
  18. ^ Cripps, Charlotte (17 January 2023). "TS Eliot Prize: Anthony Joseph is announced as this year's winner". The Independent.
  19. ^ "Dr Anthony Joseph". www.kcl.ac.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2023.
  20. ^ Shaffi, Sarah (18 January 2023). "Interview | TS Eliot prize winner Anthony Joseph: how poetry helped me love my absent father". The Guardian.
  21. ^ Creamer, Ella (12 July 2023). "Royal Society of Literature aims to broaden representation as it announces 62 new fellows". The Guardian.
  22. ^ "Rubber Orchestras, by Anthony Joseph & The Spasm Band". Anthony Joseph. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  23. ^ "TIME, by Anthony Joseph". Anthony Joseph. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  24. ^ "Caribbean Roots, by Anthony Joseph". Anthony Joseph. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  25. ^ "People of the Sun, by Anthony Joseph". Anthony Joseph. Retrieved 27 May 2022.
  26. ^ "The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running for Their Lives, by Anthony Joseph". Anthony Joseph. Retrieved 27 May 2022.

External links[edit]