Laura Scott wins Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Poetry Prize

CONGRATULATIONS to Poetry Society Member Laura Scott who has won the Seamus Heaney Centre First Collection Poetry Prize for her debut collection So Many Rooms (Carcanet, 2019). This prestigious prize is awarded annually to a writer whose first full collection has been published in the preceding year, by a UK or Ireland-based publisher. The winning writer receives £5,000.

Fellow Members Isabel Galleymore and Lucy Wadham were on the shortlist alongside Mary Jean Chan and Tom Sastry.

Laura has appeared many times in The Poetry Review and won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2015 for her poem ‘The Half-loved’. She was one of three poets (along with Keith Jarrett and Richard Scott) commissioned by The Poetry Society to write poems inspired by the British Museum exhibition Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece in 2018. Poems from that commission feature in her debut collection. Laura was also a Commended poet in the 2016 National Poetry Competition for her poem ‘The Grey Mirror’.

This year there were 43 entrants for the Seamus Heaney award for the best debut collection published in the UK and Ireland, and as always the judges were deeply impressed with the creativity on display. Nick Laird, chair of the judges panel said of this year’s submissions:

“There was immense diversity in tone and subject matter, and it was a struggle to narrow the candidates down to only five books. The shortlist we’ve chosen represents not just accomplishment but also potential.

Each book on the shortlist is ambitious enough to find, amid the deafening static of real life, a space to communicate in. We were put in mind of John Hewitt’s prescription: I do not pitch my voice/ that every phrase be heard / by those who have no choice: / their quality of mind / must be withdrawn and still, / as moth that answers moth / across a roaring hill. Any one of these books would be a worthy winner, and all are worth your time.”

The list in full:

Flèche, by Mary Jean Chan (Faber & Faber, 2019)
Significant Other, by Isabel Galleymore (Carcanet, 2019)
A Man’s House Catches Fire, by Tom Sastry (Nine Arches Press, 2019)
So Many Rooms, by Laura Scott (Carcanet, 2019)
Fold, by Lucy Wadham (Pindrop Press, 2019)

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24 June 2020