Tag Archives: Poetry Society

2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry launches today.

As a former winner of The Ted Hughes Award, I was sent this press release today and asked to share…

The Poetry Society launches the 2013 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

“I’m delighted to be announcing the fifth Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. In a short space of time the award has established itself as one of the major national prizes for poetry, recognised for the breadth of its connection with other forms of artistic expression. It’s an award that helps to promote both new and established poets, and it provides a platform for emerging artists, like last year’s winner, the wonderful Kate Tempest, allowing a whole new audience to appreciate their work.” – Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate and founder of the Ted Hughes Award.

Established in 2009, the Ted Hughes Award highlights the ways in which poets engage with other art forms. In order to reflect the collaborative nature of the award, the judging panel comprises artists from a range of backgrounds: this year, poets Sean Borodale and Denise Riley team up with artist Eileen Cooper RA.
The award seeks to reward poetry in books and beyond – on the stage, on the radio, on film and TV, in art galleries and around us in the built environment.

Previous winners of the £5,000 prize include Kate Tempest in 2012 for Brand New Ancients, a spoken word story told over a live orchestral score, Lavinia Greenlaw in 2011 for Audio Obscura, a sound work; the playwright Kaite O’Reilly for her 2010 verse translation of The Persians; and, in 2009, Alice Oswald for her illustrated collection Weeds and Wildflowers.

Kate Tempest said of winning the 2012 award: “I was overwhelmed. It was amazing to be in that room with those judges and have them say to me ‘we loved your work’. When you’re a performer or on stage people are looking at you, judging you but they’re not necessarily looking at the work […] what felt really special about the Ted Hughes Award is that it was about the work.”

In order to consider the full sweep of new poetry, the Ted Hughes Award invites members of the Poetry Society, and / or Poetry Book Society, to recommend a living UK poet, working in any form, who they feel has made an outstanding contribution to poetry in 2013. Recommendations are shortlisted by the judges in February 2014 and the winner is announced in March.

Recommendation forms are available to members of Poetry Society and Poetry Book Society and can be found by clicking here. Completed forms should be sent to Helen Taylor at tedhughesaward@poetrysociety.org.uk. 

A range of work is showcased on a dedicated ‘New Work’ page of the Poetry Society website, which aims to demonstrate the scope of work recognised by the award, and suggestions for additional projects are welcome.

Best wishes,

Robyn Donaldson

Marketing Assistant
The Poetry Society,
22 Betterton Street,

Phone: 020 7420 9886
Email: marketing@poetrysociety.org.uk

Don’t forget to enter the National Poetry Competition 2013!
Deadline for entries 31st October 2013

One hundred and fifty ‘rules’ for writing fiction: 106-110.









Further stimuli on writing from the experts, garnered from interviews, festival appearances and articles.

106.  You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write. (Saul Bellow).

107.  Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space, or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph – until you get to page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the quality. Do feel anxiety – it’s the job.  (Roddy Doyle).

108.  Write without pay until somebody offers pay; it nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for. (Mark Twain). 

109.  Art, though, is never the voice of a country; it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction, in particular, the novel. (Eudora Welty). 

110. Do back exercises. Pain is distracting. (Margaret Atwood).

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.

In the republic of Poetry: Call for nominations: 2011 Ted Hughes Award for new works in poetry

As the current award winner of this prestigious award, I wanted to publicise the call for nominees for the next Ted Hughes Award:


“In order to thrive, poetry must always be open to the world it inhabits. This means that it’s vital for poets to engage with other art forms. A poet can learn as much about their craft from closely examining the work of other artists as they can from poetry itself.” Sarah Maguire, judge of the Ted Hughes Award 2011

Now in its third year, the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry brings into focus the many ways in which poets are engaging with other art forms and celebrates an extraordinary range of poetic work.

Alongside the many and varied collections published each year, poets are creating work for contexts beyond the page. Already in 2011, there has been a verse play which takes a contemporary look at the Mystery Plays, an aural version of the camera obscura at Manchester’s Piccadilly Station, poems carved into paving and streets in Leeds’ oldest district and a drama documentary about the murder of Sophie Lancaster, a young gap year student, told through a series of poignant poems. These are just a few examples of work produced this year which demonstrate the range and inventiveness of poetic work.

Last year’s winner of the award, Kaite O’Reilly, agrees that this “vitality and breadth of work” is something to be celebrated; and what better way than through “this innovative award, associated with two astonishing Poet Laureates, to celebrate the verve and vibrancy of poetry”.

In order to consider the fullest sweep of new poetry produced each year, the Ted Hughes Award invites members of the Poetry Society (of which there are currently a record 4000), and/or the Poetry Book Society, to recommend a living UK poet, working in any form, who they feel has made the most exciting contribution to poetry. Examples of some projects, in a range of media, that have taken place this year, can be found at http://tiny.cc/zhb97

Members have until 6 January 2012 to make their recommendations for judges Edmund de Waal, Sarah Maguire and Michael Symmons Roberts to consider. The £5,000 prize is donated by Carol Ann Duffy, funded from the annual honorarium the Poet Laureate traditionally receives from HM The Queen.

The winner of the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry will be announced along with the winner of the National Poetry Competition 2011 on Wednesday 28 March 2012.

In the republic of poetry (2)

As I am now a poet according to The Poetry Society, Jeanette Winterson and the laureates of England and Wales (and in this company, who am I to disagree?), it is time perhaps for me to go public and brace myself for that first poetry reading.

The opportunity has come from my friend Chris Kinsey, who in so many ways is responsible for repatriating me back into the republic of poetry. Her latest collection, Swarf, will be launched at Oriel Davies in Newtown, where she is poet in residence, on Thursday 15th September 2011, at 7.30pm, and she has invited me to duet with her.

The idea is thrilling but also perplexing. I don’t write poetry per se, so am not quite sure what I’ll be expected to read at this ‘poetry reading’. Ever supportive, Chris gives me some suggestions of speeches from my plays which she feels have resonance with some of her poems in Swarf. This helpfulness merely perplexes me even more. What she has chosen are dialogue from play scripts, speeches written down as prose in the same format as this paragraph you, dear reader, are looking at now. They were not written as poems, but words to suggest a character, create pace, dynamic and rhythm, to push a story along. They aren’t set out in any shape or manner that resembles what I’ve seen published in poetry books – Chris Kinsey’s included.

This relationship between language and form – poetic or otherwise – has puzzled me for many years.

When I was younger, I used to read poetry widely, but somewhere  along the way became nervous and suspicious – not of the poems, but my own capacity to understand them. There were always some poets I still read and engaged with, but I wonder where this self-denigration came from? I’m not the only one feeling this way, or asking this question. In this quarterly’s edition of Mslexia magazine, D J Taylor queries why generations are growing up with a phobia, if not fear, of poetry.

Although I don’t actually write poetry, my version of Persians won the Ted Hughes Award for new works in Poetry earlier this year. As Aeschylus’s original, which I followed closely, was a verse drama, it fits the label. I was honoured to win the award and to have my name linked with two astonishing Poet laureates – Ted Hughes and Carol Ann Duffy, who initiated the award.  So why this trepidation in labelling, this fear of the poetic word? Will I be an imposter, masquerading as something I’m not at Chris’s book launch?

I look up the other readers who will perform that evening, to see if some clues lie there. R V Bailey has published three solo poetry collections, and From you to me – Love Poems, with her partner U A Fanthorpe. Andy Croft is the publisher of Smokestack Books, a widely published poet in his own right, and (a detail which delights me),  the writer of a regular poetry column in The Morning Star. The final reader will be Jane Dards, who has poems published in publications as diverse as Envoi, The Spectator, and The Oldie. Alongside them and the cause for this gathering is the wonderful Madam Kinsey, BBC Wildlife poet of the year, celebrating her third collection….

They are all poets. They all write poetry.

I wonder if I’m being overly literal. I’m not a fan of this segregational attitude I seem to have taken on. ‘Descriptive, not prescriptive’ I often say at workshops – and here I am, probably being blinkered in view and definition, quibbling about form.

But form is so essential. It is the life marrow in the bones that hold my work up.

I go back to the words.

What I seem to write are performance texts or prose which are viewed as poetry by poets, deemed highly lyrical by critics and cultural commentators. Told by the Wind, which I co-created with Jo Shapland and Phillip Zarrilli for The Llanarth group last year ‘..has the astringent purity of a haiku poem..’ Elizabeth Mahoney reviewed in The Guardian.

‘The pleasure in O’Reilly’s play … is in  the easy, generous flow of the writing, with its mixtures of wit and singing lyricism ..’ Lynn Gardner wrote in the same paper of an earlier play, Belonging, for Birmingham Rep’.

At the Saville Club in Mayfair when I was given the Ted Hughes award, I likened it to discovering and being welcomed into a section of the family I never knew existed. I could see the family resemblances, sense the shared DNA – but was also aware of those rogue genes which brought unfamiliar features and essential differences.

Poets… Playwrights….I wonder if I’m being too narrow in my definitions.

When I think about it, many poems I read (not least the Poet Laureate’s The World’s Wife) use words ‘to suggest a character, create pace, dynamic and rhythm, to push a story along’, to quote myself from earlier in this post.

But more importantly, are there others who doubt their own capacities to read and comprehend poetry? If so, where does that come from? What has distanced us from where we began, and what we loved so much as children – and what we turn to in bereaved or troubled times?

Any comments?


For details of the poetry reading and book launch of Swarf by Chris Kinsey at Oriel Davies, Newtown, Wales, click on:                   http://www.orieldavies.org/en/events/book-launch-poetry-night

Andy Croft’s most recent column in The Morning Star: http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/content/view/full/108528

For details of the book and the publisher: