The winner of the 2018 Ted Hughes Award is Raymond Antrobus for The Perseverance!

The Shortlist

L-R: Raymond Antrobus (photo: Caleb Femi), Tishani Doshi (photo: Carlo Pizzati) Roy McFarlane (credit: Jack Nelson), Susan Richardson, Hannah Sullivan (credit: Teresa Walton)

The 2018 Ted Hughes Award was judged by Linton Kwesi Johnson, Canon Mark Oakley, and Clare Shaw.  

Raymond Antrobus for The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins)

Raymond Antrobus was born in Hackney, London to an English mother and Jamaican father. He is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Complete Works III and Jerwood Compton Poetry. He is one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word Education from Goldsmiths, University of London. Raymond is a founding member of Chill Pill and the Keats House Poets Forum. He has had multiple residencies in deaf and hearing schools around London, as well as Pupil Referral Units. In 2018 he was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Award by the Poetry Society (judged by Ocean Vuong). Raymond currently lives in London and spends most his time working nationally and internationally as a freelance poet and teacher. His first collection, The Perseverance (Penned in the Margins), was the Poetry Book Society Choice for Winter 2018 and a Poetry Book of the Year in The Guardian and The Sunday Times.

The Perseverance is the debut collection from Antrobus, exploring histories, continents, loss and legacy through the poet’s own d/Deaf experience. The judges said: This is transformative writing creating a new cultural landscape. Antrobus makes us hear between the lines through poems well-crafted with emotional intelligence. This collection’s critique of the supremacy of the sonic world opened new doors and gave us new insights.

Tishani Doshi for Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods (Bloodaxe)

Tishani Doshi is a poet and dancer of Welsh-Gujarati descent. Born in Madras, she spent part of her childhood in Wales, gained her Masters from Johns Hopkins University in the US, and worked in London before returning to India to work with the choreographer Chandralekha, with whom she performed on many international stages. She received an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry in 2001, and won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection for her debut collection Countries of the Body in 2006. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers (Bloomsbury, 2010), was longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her second poetry collection, Everything Begins Elsewhere, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2012. Fountainville: new stories from the Mabinogion was published by Seren in 2013. Her third collection, Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods (Bloodaxe Books, 2018), is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation.

An unflinching collection of poems that weaves between topics from violence against women to time and memory, alongside a performed dance piece presented in parallel. The judges said: The poet revels in a love of language; its capacity for ambiguity, for awe, to express emotional fragility. Sometimes playful and ambivalent, this is an invariably profound and excavating experience in its search for meaning.

Roy McFarlane for The Healing Next Time (Nine Arches)

Roy McFarlane was born in Birmingham of Jamaican parentage and has spent most of his years living in Wolverhampton. He has held the role of Birmingham’s Poet Laureate and Starbucks’ Poet in Residence, and is presently the Birmingham & Midland Institute’s Poet in Residence. Roy’s writing has appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Out of Bounds (Bloodaxe, 2012), Filigree (Peepal Tree,  2018) and he is the editor of Celebrate Wha? Ten Black British Poets from the Midlands (Smokestack, 2011). His first full collection of poems, Beginning With Your Last Breath, was published in 2016, followed by The Healing Next Time in 2018, both published by Nine Arches Press. 

The Healing Next Time interweaves sequences on institutional racism, deaths in custody and a life-story set against Birmingham at the turn of the millennium. The collection makes record of injustice while asking questions of future, shaped by a strong influence of Jazz and writer/activist James Baldwin. The judges said: The Healing Next Time blends the passion of anger and muted rage with the writer’s own reticence, combining the private and the public. This is a collection where the emotional resonances of resilience are always on show.


Susan Richardson for Words the Turtle Taught Me (Cinnamon Press)

Susan Richardson is a poet, performer, educator and editor, whose collections, Creatures of the Intertidal Zone, Where the Air is Rarefied, skindancing and Words the Turtle Taught Me are published by Cinnamon Press. In addition to her residency with the Marine Conservation Society, she was poet-in-residence with the global animal welfare initiative, World Animal Day. Susan has performed at festivals throughout the UK, for organisations such as WWF and Friends of the Earth, on BBC 2, Radio 4 and at universities, nationally and internationally. She co-edits Zoomorphic, the digital literary magazine that publishes work in celebration and defence of wild animals.

Richardson’s poems, illustrated by Pat Gregory, use the precariousness of endangered marine life as the starting point for bigger questions about the ecological impact of humanity. The work combines poetry with the long essay ‘Thirty Ways of Looking at the Sea’, charting Richardson’s involvement with the Marine Conservation Society as resident poet as they launched an appeal to tackle the threats facing thirty marine species. The judges said: Intricate, moving, and often humorous, this work evokes a threatened environment and draws our attention to the ecological challenges of our time.

Hannah Sullivan for Three Poems (Faber & Faber)

Hannah Sullivan lives in London with her husband and two sons and is an Associate Professor of English at New College, Oxford. She received her PhD from Harvard in 2008 and taught in California for four years. Her study of modernist writing, The Work of Revision, was published in 2013 and awarded the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize by the British Academy.  

The debut collection from Hannah Sullivan comprises three ambitious long poems, set across different cities and time periods, exploring innocence, homecoming, birth and loss. The judges said: This is a rich, experimental voice which maps the contours of intimacy – poems which carry the reader and make the heart beat faster.