In the UK, Inaugural Women Poets’ Prize Winners Begin Mentor Programs

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The new Women Poets’ Prize pairs its three winners with poetry mentors and life-skill coaches as part of a support program for its writers.

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By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson
The Biennial Prize’s First Outing
As part of the prize package from the new biennial Women Poets’ Prize in the UK, three winners.

The winners of the competition—Claire Collison, Anita Pati, and Nina Mingya Powles—were chosen from a shortlist of nine writers.

Of the three who have won the program’s top honors:

  • Claire Collison has been shortlisted for prizes including the Bridport, Flambard, Poetry Business, Resurgence and Hippocrates, Collison was commissioned to write for Refugee Tales at the Aldeburgh Festival. She’s an artist in residence at the Women’s Art Library.
  • Anita Pati, a Londoner originally from the UK’s north, is working on her first poetry pamphlet.
  • Nina Mingya Powles is a New Zealander now living in the UK, Powles is the author of Luminescent (2017) and Girls of the Drift (2014), and her poetry pamphlet Field Notes on a Downpour is to be published by If A Leaf Falls Press. She edits poetry for The Shanghai Literary Review and won the 2018 Jane Martin Poetry Prize

Claire Collison

As Publishing Perspectives readers will remember, this is the program created in June by the Rebecca Swift Foundation.

The prize is intended to provide not only £1,000 (US$1,308) to each of its three female-identifying winners but also “a program of support and creative professional development opportunities in collaboration with seven partner organizations.” Those partnering outfits are:

  • Faber and Faber
  • Bath Spa University
  • The Literary Consultancy
  • RADA [the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts]
  • City Lit
  • Verve Festival
  • The Poetry School

Nina Mingya Powles

Swift, for whom the program is named, was not only a writer but also a Trustee of the Maya Centre, a charity supporting vulnerable women in Islington through psychodynamic counseling. She was a supporter of their mental health therapy programs which focus on enabling women to heal through learning to tell their stories.

In light of those interests, the Rebecca Swift Foundation Women Poets’ Prize provides as part of its all-new award a program of long-term support and creative professional development opportunities to the three winners.

Collison, Pati, and Powles each are being 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, and a personalized exploration module.

Anita Pati

In a prepared statement,  Sarah Howe, one of the trio of jurors, is quoted, saying, “It was humbling and heartening to encounter the work of poets committed to pushing at the bounds of what the art form can be, the experiences it can encompass.”

And with her fellow jurors—Moniza Avi and Fiona Sampson—Howe has issued a line of commentary on the work of each of the three winning poets.

  • About Claire Collison’s work, they write, “These are mesmerizing poems, with unusual and subtle shifts, sharp, grounded, and achieved with remarkable naturalness.”
  • About Pati’s work, they write, “These poems are full of linguistic and sonic quirk, with a great display of emotional intelligence that moves the reader.”
  • And about Powles’ work, “There is incredible originality here, offering a real excitement about what poetry can do. This is a perfect merging of form and content.”

Swift, a co-founder of The Literary Consultancy, was an editor, novelist, diarist, and poet who published a biography, Poetic Lives: Dickenson,  with Hesperus Press (2011).


More from Publishing Perspectives on literary awards is here, and on poetry is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He is also co-owner and editor with Jane Friedman of The Hot Sheet, the newsletter for trade and indie authors. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook, at London's The Bookseller. Anderson has also worked with CNN International, CNN.com, CNN USA, the Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and other media.

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