Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2011: Lavinia Greenlaw






Carol Ann Duffy, Kaite O’Reilly (2010 winner), and judges Gillian Clarke, Jeanette Winterson and Stephen Raw, Saville Club, London, March 2011.

As last year’s winner of the Ted Hughes Award, for my version of Aeschylus’s Persians, I was delighted to receive the following from The Poetry Society this week:

Lavinia Greenlaw Wins Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry with Audio Obscura

Judges Edmund de Waal, Sarah Maguire and Michael Symmons Roberts have presented the 2011 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry to Lavinia Greenlaw for her outstanding sound work Audio Obscura.

Now in its third year, the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry is awarded annually to recognise excellence in poetry. It is one of the only awards to acknowledge the wide range of collaborative work being produced by poets – not just in books, but beyond.

Audio Obscura perfectly demonstrates the extent of this range. Taking place at Manchester’s Piccadilly station in July 2011 and at London’s St Pancras International station in September / October 2011, Audio Obscura is a sound work in which the listener enters interior lives and discovers, somewhere between what is heard and what is seen, what cannot be said. We become conscious of this as transgression but are unable to contain our curiosity. Caught up in the act of listening, we too give ourselves away. The judges said:

“Audio Obscura was a groundbreaking work that fully captured the spirit of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. The judges felt this was a particularly outstanding year with six stellar entries on the shortlist”.

Greenlaw’s poetry includes Minsk and The Casual Perfect. She has also published novels and the non-fiction The Importance of Music to Girls and Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland. She has held residencies at the Science Museum and the Royal Society of Medicine, and is Professor of Creative Writing at UEA. Her exploration of perception has led to radio programmes about landscape and light.


Simon Armitage for Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster A drama documentary for BBC Radio 4, this is an elegy to the 20-year-old student who was attacked whilst attempting to protect her boyfriend from a group of violent youths. Four years after her death, Sophie’s story is told through poems by Simon Armitage, and an interview with her mother, Sylvia Lancaster. Produced by Sue Roberts.

Julia Copus for Ghost Lines A personal testimony of IVF treatment and failed pregnancy by Julia Copus in poems and prose, written especially for this BBC Radio 3 programme. Poems read by actress Hattie Morahan with music composed by Jacob Shirley. Produced by John Taylor/Fiction Factory.

Robert Crawford for Simonides Translations of the ancient Greek poet, on death, loss and remembrance, accompanied by photographs by Norman McBeath. The project is also the subject of a 2011 exhibition. Commissioned by the University of St Andrews as part of its 600th Anniversary.

Lavinia Greenlaw for Audio Obscura A ‘sound experience’ that saw its audience don headphones amongst the bustle of London St Pancras and Manchester Piccadilly train stations to listen in on individual narratives. Commissioned and produced by Artangel and Manchester International Festival.

Andrew Motion for Laurels and Donkeys A BBC Radio 4 programme produced by Tim Dee featuring a sequence of dramatic war poems to mark Remembrance Day.

Christopher Reid for Airs and Ditties of No Man’s Land An orchestral piece set in the First World War, first performed as part of the BBC Proms and broadcast on BBC Radio 3. Music composed by Colin Matthews.


• 2010 Kaite O’Reilly for her verse translation of Aeschylus’ The Persians (National Theatre Wales production).


• 2009 Alice Oswald for her book Weeds and Wild Flowers (Faber & Faber) with accompanying etchings by Jessica Greenman.

The Poetry Society was founded in 1909 to promote a “more general recognition and appreciation of poetry”. Since then, it has grown into one of Britain’s most dynamic arts organisations, representing British poetry both nationally and internationally. Today it has nearly 4,000 members worldwide and publishes the leading poetry magazine, Poetry Review. With innovative education and commissioning programmes and a packed calendar of performances, readings and competitions, the Poetry Society champions poetry for all ages.

Poetry Society awards and competitions: In addition to the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, the Poetry Society runs the National Poetry Competition, one of the world’s longest-running and most prestigious prizes for an individual poem. The Poetry Society also organises the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award for poets aged 11-17, the young people’s performance poetry championship SLAMbassadors UK and the Corneliu M Popescu Prize, for poetry translated from a European language into English.

Recommendations for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry: Members of the Poetry Society and Poetry Book Society were invited to recommend a living UK poet, working in any form, who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry in 2011.

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