The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

The Poetry Society is delighted to announce that Julia Copus, Kei Miller and Grayson Perry are the three intrepid judges set to decide who will be awarded the 2014 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

Established in 2009, the 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 award-winning poets Julia Copus and Kei Miller join Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry to judge the award made possible by the Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. She said of the award:

“It’s a great pleasure to be introducing the 6th annual Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry. Combining poetry with a host of other forms of artistic expression, it has become one of the most significant prizes in the calendar. It acknowledges new and emerging artists producing original, innovative and vital works like Zones of Avoidance, the piece that made Maggie Sawkins the 2013 winner. As well as the prestige associated with being awarded a prize like this, it expands the reach of the winning work, bringing it, and its creator, to the attention of eager new audiences across the UK.”

When it comes to the entries, Grayson Perry “will be looking to cry… I will be measuring the tears – although they may be tears of laughter” while Julia Copus will be searching for work that “leaves me more keen-sighted, able to see the world newly and distinctly” and that’s exactly the kind of work that has come to be expected of the UK’s most innovative poetry award. Kei Miller sums up saying:

“It’s hard to say what I would look for in terms of ‘innovation’. A lot of things are conventionally innovative – a bit of multimedia, a bit of hyperlinks thrown in. Perhaps then I’m just looking to be surprised, in a good way, and by something that accentuates the poetry rather than detracting from it. So much is available to us today – not just technology, but everything in the material world. The truly innovative poet will know how to choose carefully. That’s I’m looking for – careful choices, surprising choices, smart choices.”


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 2014. Recommendations are shortlisted by the judges in February 2015 and the winner is announced in March.

Please read the rules and eligibility guidelines before making your recommendation. If you have any further questions, please consult the FAQs. If you’re ready to recommend, forms are available to download here. Please email to us or print off and send by post. The deadline for recommendations is 7 January 2015


Julia Copus
Julia Copus is an award-winning poet and children’s writer. Her debut poetry collection, The Shuttered Eye, appeared from Bloodaxe in 1995. It contained the first of several ‘specular’ poems, a form in which the second half of the poem is an exact mirror of the first. In 2012, Faber published her third collection, The World’s Two Smallest Humans, which was short-listed for both the Costa poetry award and the T.S. Eliot prize. Other awards include first prize in the National Poetry Competition and the Forward prize for best single poem (2010). Julia’s radio work includes Ghost Lines, a cycle of poems and biographical interludes about the experience of IVF, which was short-listed for the 2012 Ted Hughes award. She is currently working on a biography of the poet Charlotte Mew.

Kei Miller 
Kei Miller was born in Jamaica in 1978. Kei writes across a range of genres: novels, books of short stories, essays and poetry. His 2014 collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion (Carcanet), is shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. His poetry has also been shortlisted for awards such as the Jonathan Llewelyn Ryhs Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year. In 2010, the Institute of Jamaica awarded him the Silver Musgrave medal for his contributions to Literature. Kei has an MA in Creative Writing from Manchester Metropolitan University and a PhD in English Literature from the University of Glasgow. In 2013 the Caribbean Rhodes Trust named him the Rex Nettleford Fellow in Cultural Studies. 

Grayson Perry 
Winner of the 2003 Turner prize, Grayson Perry is one of Britain’s best-known contemporary artists. He works with traditional media; ceramics, cast iron, bronze, printmaking and tapestry and is interested in how each historic category of object accrues over time’s intellectual and emotional baggage. Perry is a great chronicler of contemporary life, drawing viewers in with beauty, wit, affecting sentiment and nostalgia as well as fear and anger. His hard-hitting and exquisitely crafted works reference his own childhood and life as a transvestite while also engaging with wider social issues from class and politics to sex and religion.

Grayson Perry has had major solo exhibitions nationally and internationally including the critically acclaimed Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum. His monumental suite of tapestries The Vanity of Small Differences, which were inspired by his BAFTA winning Channel 4 series: In the Best Possible Taste, are currently on a national and international tour led by the Arts Council Collection and British Council. In June 2013 Perry was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Grayson Perry: Who Are You? begins on Channel 4 in October; the accompanying free display at the National Portrait Gallery, sponsored by Coutts, opens 25 Oct. His book, Playing to the Gallery: helping contemporary art in its struggle to be understood is published by Particular Books.

Previous winners

The winner of the 2013 was Maggie Sawkins for Zones of Avoidance, a multimedia live literature production

 Read more about Maggie Sawkins and Zones of Avoidance here, and visit the history section to find out about earlier winners, including Kate TempestLavinia Greenlaw, Kaite O’Reilly and Alice Oswald.

The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry

 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 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry seeks to recognise excellence in poetry, highlighting outstanding contributions made by poets to our cultural life.

“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.