Lydia Harris wins Paper Swans pamphlet prize

Lydia Harris
Lydia Harris

It’s 1,2,3 for Poetry Society Members in this year’s Paper Swans Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize, judged by Carrie Etter. 

  • First prize: Lydia Harris, A Small Space
  • Second prize: Mark Russell, Wild & Irregular
  • Third prize: David Hale, Beating the Bounds


Narrowing from the longlist of 13 to a final three places was every bit as difficult as I imagined, and I wish all the finalists could be published – they all impressed me, and I had to revisit the manuscripts numerous times to come to my decision.

Beginning with a label on an exhibit in a local museum, in A Small Space Lydia Harris develops a series of poignant, precise poems exploring the late 18th century remains of an infant burial in Orkney. The restless inventiveness of these poems impressed me again and again.

Mark Russell’s Wild & Irregular is a series of intelligent, masterfully controlled prose poems, the palpable fever dreams of Covid-19 and lockdown.

David Hale’s Beating the Bounds richly and vividly evokes south Gloucestershire, both place and people, and made me eager to read his forthcoming debut collection.

Five of the longlisted entries were Poetry Society Members too…

  • Claire Cox, A Crackle in the Blood
  • Sarah James, Rain Falling Fast as Light
  • Fiona Larkin, Vital Capacity
  • Kate Noakes, Lilac Elegies
  • Judi Sutherland, Following Teisa

It was a record number of entries to the prize. Paper Swans Press is an independent publisher of poetry and flash fiction. They publish high quality anthologies, individual pamphlets and ‘Pocket Poetry’ books. They also run an annual single-author pamphlet prize and a single-poem competition. 

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27 October 2020