What to recommend

“What happens in the heart, simply happens” – Ted Hughes

What is eligible in the Ted Hughes Award?

Crow © Estate of Leonard Baskin
Crow © Estate of Leonard Baskin

If you’re a member of The Poetry Society or The Poetry Book Society, then the Ted Hughes Award judges are relying on you to tell them about the poetry which has had the biggest impact on you this year. 

The Ted Hughes Award celebrates poetry that has made an outstanding contribution to the UK’s cultural life. While poetry collections are eligible, the judges cast an eye over the wider poetry landscape, and in addition to poetry collections, works to win or be shortlisted in the Award include live albums of poetry in performance, poetic memoirs, poetry on film, poetry for radio, poetry in collaboration with other art-forms, one-off shows, experimental pamphlets, or any other artistic activity to feature new work by a UK poet. 

Recommendations aren’t nominations or votes, but they are a crucial part of the judging process, informing the judges of work they may have missed: from big public commissions to exciting new projects from up-and-coming small presses. Poets need to be a UK citizen or resident in the UK to be eligible, and the work needs to have first entered the public domain or been published in 2018. Poets cannot recommend their own work. You can find the full rules for eligibility here. 

If there’s been a performance which has lodged itself in your consciousness, a new poetry book to make a permanent home in your bag, a radio play to catch your ear, or poetry appearing in another form of media entirely, make sure to let the judges know before 7 January 2019.

You’ll have received a recommendation form with your members’ mailing. If you’ve recently joined as a member, you can download an electronic copy here. 


Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry – Previous Winners

2017 Winner

Jay Bernard for Surge: Side A

2017 judge Sally Beamish said “An intensely personal relating of the New Cross massacre; powerful, lyrical and communicated with extraordinary intimacy. I was particularly struck by their drawing of a parallel between the struggle for validation in the black British community, and the poet’s own clarification of identity by transforming their body through surgery. The performances are riveting and the poems are propelled by a strong internal momentum.”

2016 Winner

Hollie McNish for Nobody Told Me

2016 judge Jo Bell said “This book is more than the sum of its parts, combining the immediacy of a diary with straight talking poetry from a spoken word tradition. This book is funny and serious, humane and consciousness-raising: it changed the way I think about women (and I am one).”

2015 Winner

David Morley @ProfDavidMorley for The Invisible Gift

From the judges: “In these poems, David Morley switches forms and registers to reveal the versatility of the voices and the liveliness of the Romani culture, arguing for a tradition which has been invisible and silent.”

2014 Winner 

Andrew Motion @motionandrew for Coming Home

A poetic re-imagining and radio performance of shared conversations centered on the effect of conflict, praised by the judges for its “innovative and deeply moving” poetry.

2013 Winner

 Maggie Sawkins @SawkinsMaggie for Zones of Avoidance

(Trailer) “This is an ambitious multimedia presentation using film, voices and sound, which works exceptionally well.”– Denise Riley 

2012 Winner 

Kate Tempest @katetempest for Brand New Ancients.

Spoken Word; ‘Tempest’s everyday epic of small heroics and bad behaviour recasts the ancient gods as two London families’ – Lyn Gardner, The Guardian