The Peggy Poole Award helps emerging writers develop their craft, and gives poets in the North West of England the chance to win a year of mentoring from a leading poet, running alongside the National Poetry Competition, The award is in memory of the poet and broadcaster Peggy Poole and made possible thanks to the generosity of her extended family and many friends.
Peggy Poole was a passionate advocate for the ongoing vitality of poetry in the North West, and championed new and emerging poets in the region. Peggy’s work for Radio Merseyside’s First Heard programme provided a platform for new voices, as did the events which she co-ran for Jabberwocky, which also attracted established poets such as Ted Hughes, Stephen Spender and Ursula Fanthorpe. She was a consultant for BBC North West, and an honorary member of Liverpool’s Dead Good Poets’ Society and Ver Poets.
Her collections include Never a Put-up Job (1970), Cherry Stones: And Other Poems (1983), Hesitations (1990), Trusting the Rainbow (1994), From the Tide’s Edge (1999), and more. Her Selected Poems was published in 2003. She edited Poet’s England 17: Cumbria (1995), her anthology of railway poems Marigolds Grow Wild on Platforms (1996), and Perceptions (2000), a collection of poems by women.
“What do I look for? I keep an open mind, but look for: that touch of originality, that right combination of words, that vivid image, that musicality of sounds, that instant ‘YES’, that delight in a real poem, that joy in a fine piece of work. And I don’t mind where it comes from or from whom, and I don’t mind if it’s simple or complex – if it’s a true poem I’ll recognise it.” Peggy Poole
The mentor-judge for 2020 is the poet Vona Groarke. Vona will select a winner of the Peggy Poole Award based on poems submitted to the National Poetry Competition by poets currently living in the North West of England.
Vona Groarke has published seven poetry collections with Gallery Press, the latest being Double Negative (2019). Her Selected Poems won the 2017 Pigott Prize for best Irish collection. Her 2016 book-length personal essay on art frames, middle age and much else, Four Sides Full, was described in the Irish Times as, ‘as moving as it is erudite and elegant’. A Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library 2018-19; former editor of Poetry Ireland Review and selector for the Poetry Book Society, she teaches at the University of Manchester and otherwise lives on a smallholding in south Co. Sligo.
The winner of the 2017 Peggy Poole Award was Yvonne Reddick, who was mentored by Deryn Rees-Jones. The 2018 winner was Mark Pajak, who was mentored by Michael Symmons Roberts. Last year’s winner was Saiqa Khushnood, who is now being mentored by Malika Booker. The mentorship will culminate in a celebratory reading in the North West in Spring/ Summer 2021.
To be eligible for the Peggy Poole Award, you just need to enter the National Poetry Competition and be living in one of the following postcode regions: BB, BD, BL, CA, CH, CW, FY, IM, L, LA, M, OL, PR, SK, WN and WA. When you make your entry, you’ll be able to opt in to being considered for the award.
The National Poetry Competition is open for entries in 2020 and the closing date is 31st October. You can enter online at: npc.poetrysociety.org.uk