November 6, 2018
Women Poets’ Prize winners announced
by Julie Goldberg
The inaugural Women Poets’ Prize announced its three winners: Claire Collison, Anita Pati, and Nina Mingya Powles.
The prize, awarded by the Rebecca Swift Foundation in honor of the later editor, novelist, diarist, poet and founder of The Literary Consultancy, seeks to grant the award to three female-identifying poets who “are making or are capable of making a significant contribution to the UK poetry landscape.”
Each award recipient will be paired with a poetry mentor as well as a pastoral coach, to support their mental and emotional-being as they develop their craft. In addition to the mentoring program, they will be provided with a number of creative professional development opportunities with the foundation’s partners (Faber and Faber, The Literary Consultancy, RADA, City Lit, Verve Festival, Bath Spa University, and The Poetry School). The three winners will also receive £1,000.
As reported in Poetry Foundation, Collison, Pati, and Powles each approach their poetry, in all of the joy and pain and everything in-between which it encompasses, from a uniquely personal place.
Collison, who began writing poetry after spending 30 years working as a visual artist, is well-known for her Truth is Beauty campaign, in which she recited a monologue whilst posting naked for a life drawing class, mastectomy scars exposed. One of the poems in her application, “The Ladies’ Pond,” describes one last swim before a mastectomy.
Powles, who was born in New Zealand, has shared that her racial identity has both been a crucial part of her work, as well as motivated her to push back against the dead-white-guy saturated literary canon. “Being mixed race and half Chinese Malaysian, it has been a particular focus for me to discover other mixed race poets, writers and artists,” she said. “I am trying to find a new canon of my own.”
Julie Goldberg is an intern at Melville House.