Dylan Thomas prize goes to young U.S. poet

U.S. poet Elyse Fenton, 29, is the third winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize for her collection Clamour.

A young U.S. poet is the third winner of the fledgling Dylan Thomas Prize, for a poetry collection inspired by the long-distance missives she shared with her Army medic husband while he served in Iraq.

Elyse Fenton, 29, was named the 2010 winner of the £30,000 (about $47,000 Cdn) prize for her poetry collection Clamor on Wednesday at a ceremony in Swansea, Wales — the home of namesake writer Thomas.

The jury praised Fenton for her weaving together of the brutality of warfare with the love shared between a solider on the front lines and the family waiting for him at home. Peter Florence, founder of the Hay Literary Festival and a member of the judging panel, described Clamor as "spectacular."

"It's a great winner. It's an astonishing, fully accomplished book of huge ambition and spectacular delivery."

The Philadelphia-based poet triumphed over finalists from all over the world, including British poet Caroline Bird, Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohamed, Canadian-born, New Zealand author Elanor Catton, Indo-American noveslit Karan Mahajan and Scottish writer Emily Mackie.

Initially a biennial honour that has now become an annual award, the Thomas Prize celebrates excellence in English-language writing by those under the age of 30.

Fenton is the first poet to win. The two previous recipients of the University of Wales-sponsored award were with Welsh author Rachel Trevise (for her short fiction collection Fresh Apples) and Vietnamese-Australian writer Nam Le (for his short fiction collection The Boat).

Organizers also unveiled Wednesday night the inaugural winner of a new prize designed to boost the profile of unpublished writers. Welsh author Stefan Mohamed, 22, was named recipient of the £5,000 (about $7,800 Cdn) Sony Reader Award for Bitter Sixteen. As part of his win, the novel will be published as an e-book.