Maria Isakova-Bennett wins the Peggy Poole Award

Maria Isakova Bennett (photo: Ron Davies)

The Poetry Society has announced that Maria Isakova-Bennett has been chosen by poet and editor Vona Groarke as the winner of the Peggy Poole Award 2020, at the National Poetry Competition Awards event live on Zoom on 25 March.

Maria will receive mentoring from Vona as her prize, culminating in a celebratory reading in the North West in 2022. Now in its fourth successful year, the Award is a talent development scheme for poets based in the North West of England.

Maria Isakova-Bennett lives in Liverpool, and works as a tutor for charities across Merseyside. She is writer-in-residence for Mersey Care and NHS Trust, and was poet and artist-in-residence at the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival in 2018. She is the author of three poetry pamphlets and creates and edits the hand-stitched poetry journal, Coast to Coast to Coast.

Maria said of winning the Award:

“It’s extremely heartening to be selected for the Peggy Poole Award by Vona Groarke. To know that a poet you admire has read your work closely and selected you for mentoring is very encouraging. I look forward to the year ahead.”

The poet Vona Groarke, who judged this year’s Award, selected Maria from 447 poets in the North West of England who entered the National Poetry Competition 2020.

A leading Irish poet and former editor of Poetry Ireland Review, Vona praised Maria’s writing and saying:

“I chose Maria’s poems mostly because I was surprised by them. Their narrative voice intrigued with its suppleness and with how successfully it bucks the fixed (and often rigid) positions of love poems, or place poems, or persona poems. Enjoyable poems, they are, that I knew I’d enjoy working with!”

The Peggy Poole Award, which runs alongside the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition, was founded in memory of the poet and broadcaster Peggy Poole. It helps emerging poets in North West England to develop their craft, by offering them the chance to win a year of mentoring from a leading poet. The award is made possible thanks to the generosity of the Poole family and many friends.

The previous winners of the Award are Yvonne Reddick (2017), mentored by Deryn Rees-Jones; Mark Pajak (2018), mentored by Michael Symmons Roberts; and Saiqa Khushnood (2019), mentored by Malika Booker.

Read more about the Peggy Poole Award

Read the press release

25 March 2021