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Poetry prize aims to nurture new talent

Poetry prize aims to nurture new talent

A new poetry prize aimed at nurturing previously unpublished poets is launched today by the University.

The Brotherton Poetry Prize from the University of Leeds Poetry Centre will be judged by Leeds’ Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage; writer, broadcaster and former University Chancellor Melvyn Bragg.

They will be joined by poets and University cultural fellows Dr Vahni Capildeo, winner of a Forward Prize in 2016 and Malika Booker, inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Poetry centre Director Professor John Whale and University Librarian Stella Butler complete the judging panel. 

It's very exciting to be launching the Brotherton Poetry Prize and to look forward to its future relevance as an important annual event in the contemporary poetry landscape.

Professor Simon Armitage

Professor Simon Armitage said: “It's very exciting to be launching the Brotherton Poetry Prize and to look forward to its future relevance as an important annual event in the contemporary poetry landscape.  

“As well as identifying new literary talent and rewarding the winning poets financially, the prize aims to provide support and development through a combination of publication and mentoring, encouraging poets towards their long-term ambitions and further writing.  

“It's a proud moment for the University of Leeds Poetry Centre to be offering this opportunity.”

I look forward to seeing the encouragement it will provide to unpublished poets and to reading their work.

Melvyn Bragg

Melvyn Bragg, who in 2017 stood down after 18 years as University of Leeds Chancellor, said: “I’m very pleased to have been invited to help judge Leeds’ new Brotherton Poetry Prize and look forward to seeing the encouragement it will provide to unpublished poets and to reading their work.”

Professor John Whale added: “The Poetry Centre is delighted at this opportunity to identify, celebrate and nurture new talent.”

Poetry prizes can help bring visibility to poets, sparking global and local connections and positive, inspiring change.

Dr Vahni Capildeo

Dr Capildeo, currently Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow at Leeds, said: “Poetry prizes can help bring visibility to poets, sparking global and local connections and positive, inspiring change. The best prizes involve a lot of careful and passionate reading by diverse judges; this may be as flawed as any other public system, but names and words are floated out with genuineness and hope.”

Malika Booker added: “Developing artistic practice at an early stage of your career is one of the best investments a poet can make in their future and this prize helps facilitate this alongside the opportunity for publication and wider exposure.”

Entry criteria 

The prize is open to anyone over 18 who has not yet published a full collection of poems. Entries should include up to five poems. The winner will receive £1,000 and the opportunity to develop their creative practice with the poetry centre. Four runners-up will each receive £200.

The poems of the shortlisted poets will be published as an anthology by respected publisher Carcanet, and all five will be invited to take part in a series of readings and events at the University of Leeds and other Yorkshire venues.

The prize has been generously supported by the Charles Brotherton Trust. Brotherton’s uncle, Lord Edward Brotherton of Wakefield, was a Yorkshire industrialist and philanthropist who funded the iconic University library building that bears his name.

Full details, rules and entry forms are available here. The closing date is 4 March 2019. 

Further information

About the judges:

Simon Armitage has won numerous awards for his poetry and was awarded a CBE in 2010. He is Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and became Professor of Poetry at Leeds in 2017. 

Malika Booker is a poet, writer and artist, and considered a pioneer of the present ‘spoken word’ movement. She has worked for numerous organisations including, the BBC, British Council, National Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Company. 

Melvyn Bragg is one of the country’s foremost broadcasters and writers and has edited, produced and presented a large number of innovative, award-winning arts television and radio programmes across the cultural spectrum, including The South Bank Show and In Our Time. 

Stella Butler has been University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds since April 2011. She has a PhD in the history of science and is Chair of the Designation Panel of Arts Council England.

Vahni Capildeo is the author of seven volumes of poetry and won a Forward Prize in 2016, taught at the University of Leeds in 2009, is a Rhodes Scholar, and was a Poetry Fellow in the Faculty of English at the University of Cambridge.

John Whale is Professor of Romantic Literature and Director of the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.  He co-edits Stand magazine and his first collection of poetry, Waterloo Teeth, was shortlisted for the Forward Best First Collection Prize in 2011. 

For information about the prize, email brothertonpoetryprize@leeds.ac.uk. For media inquiries, contact University of Leeds Media Relations Manager Gareth Dant on +44(0)113 343 3996 or email g.j.dant@leeds.ac.uk

Founded in 1969, Carcanet is an outstanding literary publisher with a comprehensive list of modern and classic poetry in English and translation, inventive fiction and non-fiction. A live backlist of some 1,000 titles includes literature from 37 languages and 50 nations and celebrated authors include Nobel Prize-winners and many outstanding discoveries from around the world. Poets range from Ovid to Gillian Clarke, Robert Graves to Eavan Boland and Mervyn Peake to Kei Miller. 

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