The Rebecca Swift Foundation’s New Women Poet’s Prize Opens for Submissions

In News by Porter Anderson

Saying that it’s ‘invested in ensuring a culturally and creatively diverse shortlist.’ the Rebecca Swift Foundation opens its new Women Poet’s Prize for entries with a deadline of July 23.

Image – iStockphoto: Patcharin Simalhek

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

‘A Significant Contribution to the UK Poetry Landscape’

On Saturday (June 9), the Rebecca Swift Foundation was formally inaugurated in London near the close of the Second Home Poetry Festival, which was announced by Publishing Perspectives last month.

The foundation is designed to align its activities with key interests of the late eponymous Rebecca Swift, who was a co-founder (with Hannah Griffiths) and director of the UK’s The Literary Consultancy.

Swift was an editor, novelist, diarist, and poet who published a biography, Poetic Lives: Dickenson,  with Hesperus Press (2011). According to the foundation’s background materials, Swift also served as a trustee of the Maya Centre, a charity supporting vulnerable women in Islington through psychodynamic counselling. She was an advocate for their mental health therapy programs, which focus on enabling women to heal through learning to tell their stories.

Rebecca Swift

In response to Swift’s interests in poetry, mental health, and women’s rights, the new foundation has established the biennial Women Poets’ Prize, in an effort to provide “long-term support and creative professional development opportunities to three female-identifying poets per year.

“Each poet,” according to the foundation’s information, “will be matched with a poetry mentor and a separate pastoral coach, and will have access to a number of inspirational ‘experience’ modules including performance, festivals, bookbinding, publishing history, digital and transmedia skills, as well as a “personalized exploration module.”

The Women Poets’ Prize has been developed in association with an impressive group of organizations. In a news release, the foundation’s announcement says, “The prize will offer three female-identifying poets a program of support and creative professional development opportunities in collaboration with seven partner organizations: Faber and Faber, Bath Spa University, The Literary Consultancy, RADA [the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts], City Lit, Verve Festival, and the Poetry School.”

The combined match for a poet with a mentor and a “pastoral coach” is intended to “facilitate a body of support that will nurture craft and wellbeing in equal measure.”

And each of the three winners is to receive £1,000, as well (US$1,338).

Applications for the Women Poets’ Prize, which is defined on its own pages as emphasizing “poetry and the empowerment of women,” are due by Monday, July 23 at 11 p.m. BST (10 p.m. GMT).

Details of this all-new prize include these lines, important to read so that applicants understand the criteria by which their submissions will be gauged. They are unusually carefully written–by which we mean that they combine, better than many other programs’ instructions, a sense for the elements the program is looking for in creating this award.

We call  your attention to this line, indicating a search for diversity among entries: “The Rebecca Swift Foundation is invested in ensuring a culturally and creatively diverse shortlist and warmly encourages applications from individuals who may not normally consider applying for prizes, awards, or development opportunities.”

To ‘Gift Freedom and Inspire Potential’
  • “The prize will support creatively ambitious practitioners–poets who are making or are capable of making a significant contribution to the UK poetry landscape.
  • “It will gift freedom and inspire potential, embracing excellence in poetic practice.
  • “Applications are open to female-identifying poets of all ages, at any stage in their development, emerging or established, who are resident in the UK/Northern Ireland.
  • “The Rebecca Swift Foundation is invested in ensuring a culturally and creatively diverse shortlist and warmly encourages applications from individuals who may not normally consider applying for prizes, awards, or development opportunities.
  • “Following the initial application stage, a reading panel will select a longlist of 40 to 60 applicants whose work will then be read by a panel of industry judges.
  • “A resulting shortlist of nine poets will be revealed, before the final selection of three awardees is made by the mentors who will work with the winning poets.”

Information on how to apply is here.

A shortlist for the prize is to be announced in the autumn.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.