Join us for at a celebratory 40th anniversary event for the National Poetry Competition – one of the most prestigious poetry competitions in the world – featuring readings and new commissions from some of the UK’s finest writers. The Poetry Society presents a dazzling line-up of ten poets who have gained recognition through the National Poetry Competition’s illustrious history.
Book now to hear Liz Berry, Mary Jean Chan, Geraldine Clarkson, Ian Duhig, Fran Lock, Sinéad Morrissey, Mark Pajak, Caleb Parkin, Stephen Sexton and Jo Shapcott.
Everyone who attends the event will be invited to enter a free poem into the 2019 National Poetry Competition (worth £7), which launches in May.
Supported by Cockayne Grants for the Arts and The London Community Foundation.
Ian Duhig has written seven books of poetry, most recently The Blind Roadmaker (Picador 2016), a PBS Recommendation shortlisted for the Roehampton, Forward Best Collection and TS Eliot Prizes. Duhig also works with musicians, artists and socially excluded groups, recently editing Any Change: Poetry in a Hostile Environment, an anthology of work from Leeds’ immigrant communities. A Cholmondeley Award recipient, Duhig has won the Forward Best Poem Prize once and the National Poetry Competition twice.
Liz Berry’s first book of poems, Black Country (Chatto 2014), described as a ‘sooty, soaring hymn to her native West Midlands’ (Guardian) was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, received a Somerset Maugham Award and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award and Forward Prize for Best First Collection 2014. Her latest pamphlet The Republic of Motherhood (Chatto, 2018) is a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet choice and the title poem won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem 2018.
Stephen Sexton lives in Belfast where he teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. Poems have appeared in Granta, Poetry London, and Best British Poetry 2015. His pamphlet, Oils, published by The Emma Press in 2014, was the Poetry Book Society’s Winter Pamphlet Choice. He was the winner of the 2016 National Poetry Competition and the recipient of an ACES award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. He received an Eric Gregory Award in 2018. A first book will be published by Penguin in 2019.
Mary Jean Chan
Mary Jean Chan is a poet from Hong Kong. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and came Second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition. Her debut pamphlet, A Hurry of English, was selected as the 2018 Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice. She is a Ledbury Poetry Critic and an editor of Oxford Poetry. Her debut collection will be published by Faber in 2019. Mary Jean is a Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University.
Fran Lock is the author of five poetry collections, Flatrock (Little Episodes, 2011), The Mystic and the Pig Thief (Salt, 2014), ‘Dogtooth’ (Out Spoken Press, 2017), Muses and Bruises (Culture Matters, 2017), and Ruses and Fuses (Culture Matters, 2018) in collaboration with artist Steev Burgess. Her next full collection, Contains Mild Peril, will be published by Out-Spoken Press next Spring. Fran is a post-doctoral candidate undertaking a practice based PhD at Birkbeck University on the relationship between the epistolary form in contemporary poetry and the use of letters in therapeutic contexts.
Geraldine Clarkson’s poems have appeared in journals, including Poetry, The Poetry Review, and anthologies including This Line is Not For Turning: An Anthology of British Prose Poetry (Cinnamon, 2011), Best British Poetry (Salt, 2014), and The Valley Press Anthology of British Prose Poetry (2019). Her first poetry pamphlet, Declare, was a Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice, and her second Dora Incites the Sea-Scribbler to Lament was a Laureate’s Choice (smith|doorstop, 2016). A prose poetry pamphlet, audiobook, and full-length collection are forthcoming.
Mark Pajak was born in Merseyside. His work has appeared in The London Review of Books, Poetry London, The North, The Rialto and Magma. His debut pamphlet Spitting Distance (smith|doorstop, 2016) was a Laureate’s Choice pamphlet, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy, the title poem of which won The Bridport Prize. He has also been awarded a Northern Writer’s Award and an Eric Gregory Award.
Caleb Parkin is a day-glo queero techno eco poet; a performer, facilitator, educator & filmmaker, based in Bristol. His work has appeared in The Rialto, Poetry Review, Atticus Review, Moving Poems, Folia, Eyedrum Periodically, Under the Radar, Coast to Coast to Coast and other publications in print, online & performance – as well as in schools, universities, museums, planetaria and science centres.
Sinéad Morrissey was born in Portadown, County Armagh, Northern Ireland and was Belfast’s inaugural Poet Laureate. She has published six collections, including Parallax which won the 2013 T. S. Eliot Prize and On Balance which won the 2017 Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection.
Jo Shapcott was born in London. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 Jo Shapcott was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
Top, l to r: Sinéad Morrissey; Ian Duhig; Geraldine Clarkson; Caleb Parkin; Jo Shapcott. Below, l to r: Stephen Sexton (photo: Michael Weir); Mary Jean Chan; Fran Lock; Liz Berry; Mark Pajak. Photos of Geraldine Clarkson and Jo Shapcott by Hayley Madden for The Poetry Society.