Brotherton Poetry Prize 2021 winner announced


Lauren Pope has been named the winner of the 2021 Brotherton Poetry Prize.

Lauren, an American living in Edinburgh, was selected from hundreds of entrants by a panel of judges including Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, Professor of Poetry at Leeds.  

She was presented with her award at an event last night, after each shortlisted poet read a piece of their work. 

During a period when the world’s ailments have been especially conspicuous, the submissions this year prove that poetry is alive and well

Poet Laureate Simon Armitage

Lauren has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Edinburgh with an emphasis on écriture féminine in the early poetry of Medbh McGuckian and Louise Glück. Her poetry has appeared in various publications including Gutter, Magma, The North, Poetry Wales and The Rialto. Her poetry pamphlet, Announce This (Templar), was shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Awards. She is a 2019 Manchester Poetry Prize finalist. Her first full-length collection, Always Erase, is forthcoming from Blue Diode Press in 2022. Originally from Los Angeles, she now resides in Edinburgh. 

The judging panel are all associated with the University of Leeds Poetry Centre and include poetry centre director Professor John Whale, and poets and University cultural fellows Malika Booker, Zaffar Kunial and Kimberly Campanello. 

Exciting task

Professor Armitage said: “The University of Leeds is thrilled to be presenting the Brotherton Prize for Poetry once again. During a period when the world’s ailments have been especially conspicuous, the submissions this year prove that poetry is alive and well. From a shortlist that would grace any poetry prize, choosing a winner has been a near-impossible task, but an exciting one.” 

Professor Whale added: “Lauren’s poems manifest a playful and at times disconcerting intelligence as she finds new ways of exploring the challenges to identity in our contemporary culture. 

“For the second time we were mightily impressed by the general quality of the entries and by the ingenuity, invention, and daring evident in the work of all our shortlisted poets.” 

Masud Khokhar, University Librarian and Keeper of the Brotherton Collection, said: “Libraries are hubs for creativity, ideas and thought-provoking discoveries. We hope the prize continues to encourage the future generation of poets to seek inspiration from Libraries, and particularly from the wonderful literary archives and special collections held at Leeds University Libraries.”

Supporting new poets

The Brotherton Poetry Prize celebrates and promotes poetry and supports new poets. The prize is open to anyone in the world over the age of 18 who hasn't yet published a full collection of poems.  

Lauren receives £1,000 and the opportunity to develop her creative practice with the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. The four runners-up each receive £200. Work by the shortlisted poets will be published as an anthology by Carcanet Press.  

Supported by the Charles Brotherton Trust, the competition was inaugurated in 2019. Charles’s uncle, Lord Edward Brotherton of Wakefield, was a Yorkshire industrialist and philanthropist who funded Leeds’ iconic Brotherton Library building. He donated his private library of rare books and manuscripts to the University to form the basis of the Brotherton Collection.

The shortlist  

Kym Deyn is an award-winning poet, playwright and fortune teller. Their work is widely published in a range of anthologies and magazines including The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry, Ink Sweat and Tears, and Neon. They have been shortlisted for awards including the West Yorkshire Playhouse “Airplays” Competition and the Wicked Young Writers Awards. They are one of the winners of the 2020 Outspoken Prize for poetry and a recent graduate of Durham University, where they studied Classical Civilisations, and they are now working towards their Creative Writing MA at Newcastle, where they’re currently based. They recently received DCYP funding for their queer audio drama work.  

Lucy Dixcart lives in rural Kent with her family. She studied English Language and Literature at Trinity College, Oxford, before completing an MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Her poems have been published by Stand, Acumen, Lighthouse, Fenland Poetry Journal, Ink Sweat and Tears and others. Lucy's pamphlet, Faint, was published in 2020 and she was shortlisted for the 2021 Poetry Business International Book & Pamphlet Competition.  

Helen Kay lives near Crewe. She has an MA in poetry from MMU where she was the recipient of the Rosamunde Prize. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Stand, The Rialto and Butcher’s Dog. In the 2020 she was runner up in the Prole Pamphlet Competition and highly commended in the Welsh Poetry Awards. She curates a project to support dyslexic poets: Her pamphlet, This Lexia & Other Languages ( was published in 2020. She is known on social media for her sidekick hen puppet/poet, Nigella.    

Isabella Mead won the Bedford International Poetry Prize (2020) and the Wells Festival of Literature Poetry Competition (2019), judged by Simon Armitage. She has been Highly Commended twice in the Bridport Prize (2016 and 2019), commended for the Cafe Writer's Prize (2019), longlisted in the National Poetry Competition (2018), nominated for the Forward prize for best single poem (2013) and shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award (2009). Her work has been published in Magma, Mslexia and Envoi, and appears regularly in Poetry News.  She holds a Masters in History of Art and is currently studying for a second BA in Language Studies. A former secondary English teacher in East London, she worked for two years training teachers in a rural area of Rwanda before working as Head of Learning at The Story Museum in Oxford, through which she leads a vibrant team of oral storytellers and creative writers.  

Further information

Main picture, from left: Lucy Dixcart; former University Librarian Stella Butler; lecturer in Creative Writing Dr Kimberley Campanello; Isabella Mead; Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow Malika Booker; winner Lauren Pope; Leeds Poetry Centre director Professor John Whale; Helen Kay; Poet Laureate and Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage; Kym Deyn and Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow Zaffar Kunial.

For media enquiries email University of Leeds Press Officer Lauren Ballinger at