A Shortlist of Second Collections Characterised by Risk and Ambition
Ledbury Poetry Festival is excited to announce the shortlist for the 2021 Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections. Judges Naomi Shihab Nye and Sandeep Parmar have selected seven books from poets who have different backgrounds and styles, but whose work is characterised by ambition and risk.
All the shortlisted poets will read at an online event on Tuesday 7 December, when the judges will announce the winner. Reserve free tickets here: Prize Ceremony Tickets
The Shortlisted collections are:
Horse-Man by Em Strang (Shearsman Books), melt by Sarah Hymas (Waterloo Press), After the Formalities by Anthony Anaxagorou (Penned in the Margins), Two Tongues by Claudine Toutoungi (Carcanet Press), Tigress by Jessica Mookherjee (Nine Arches Press), The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran (Bloodaxe Books) and Love Minus Love by Wayne Holloway-Smith (Bloodaxe Books)
Naomi Shihab Nye says, “These second collections of poetry by poets of such widely variant backgrounds and styles are each original, ambitious, and deeply compelling. It’s been striking how strong each book is – a difficult challenge for a judge, but what the American poet William Stafford might have called ” a happy problem.”
Sandeep Parmar says, “Reading across a range of second collections–some book-length poems, others an array of lyrics–what is most striking about the best among these is the will to push beyond the debut, to regroup, take stock, return to the source and mine language harder, adapting the tools in one’s hand or making them anew. As we tracked these voices and observed their journeys further into the world we were drawn to those who took risks and for whom they paid off.”
Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Artistic Director, Chloe Garner says, “Ledbury Poetry Festival is deeply grateful to the Pennington Mellor Munthe Charity Trust for supporting this valued Prize that uniquely celebrates the evolution of a poet’s voice beyond their (often more visible) debut. It can be easier to begin and harder to continue. The goal of this prize, as with so much of Ledbury Poetry Festival’s work, is to nourish and fortify poets so they can grow and flourish.”
Claudine Toutoungi’s debut collection Smoothie (2017) and her second collection Two Tongues (2020) are published by Carcanet Press. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Spectator, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, The Financial Times and elsewhere. Claudine’s plays include Bit Part and Slipping and she has written multiple other audio dramas for BBC Radio including Deliverers. As a performer, her contributions to festivals and events across the UK include Tongue Fu, Kendal Poetry Festival and Shubbak at the National Theatre River Stage. She has been featured on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row, In Touch and Poetry Please.
Jessica Mookherjee is of Bengali Heritage and grew up in Swansea. She has been widely published in magazines, including Under the Radar, Agenda, The North, Rialto, Antiphon and Ink, Sweat & Tears. She is author of The Swell (Telltale Press) and Joyride (Black Light Engine Room Press) and Flood (Cultured Llama). She was highly commended in the Forward Prize 2017 for best single poem. Jessica works in Public Health and lives in Kent. Tigress is her second full collection.
Em Strang is a poet, novelist, mentor, editor and founder of Scottish charity, Three Streams. Her writing preoccupations are with nature, spirituality and the relationship between the human and nonhuman. Em’s first full collection, Bird-Woman, was published by Shearsman in October 2016, was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prize and won the 2017 Saltire Poetry Book of the Year Award. Her second collection, Horse-Man, was published in September 2019. Her first novel, Quinn, was shortlisted for the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions Novel Prize and will be published by Oneworld in 2022.
Wayne Holloway-Smith was born in Wiltshire and lives in London. His first book-length collection, Alarum (Bloodaxe Books, 2017) was a Poetry Book Society Wildcard Choice for Winter 2017, was shortlisted for the Roehampton Poetry Prize 2017 and the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection 2018, and longlisted for the 2019 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize for a distinctive first book of poetry. The final poem in the collection, ‘Short’, won the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize 2016. His book of poetry, I CAN’T WAIT FOR THE WENDING, was published by Test Centre Publications in 2018. He won the National Poetry Competition 2018 for ‘the posh mums are boxing in the square’ from his second book-length book of poetry, Love Minus Love (Bloodaxe Books, 2020). Love Minus Love was shortlisted for the 2020 T.S. Eliot Prize as well as being a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice.
Vidyan Ravinthiran was born in Leeds, to Sri Lankan Tamils. His first book of poems, Grun-tu-molani (Bloodaxe Books, 2014), was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, the Seamus Heaney Centre Poetry Prize and the Michael Murphy Memorial Prize. His second, The Million-petalled Flower of Being Here (Bloodaxe Books, 2019) won a Northern Writers Award and a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, was shortlisted for both the 2019 Forward Prize for Best Collection and for the 2019 T.S. Eliot Prize. After teaching at the universities of Cambridge, Durham and Birmingham in the UK, he now teaches at Harvard in the US. He is the author of Elizabeth Bishop’s Prosaic (Bucknell, 2015), winner of both the University English Prize and the Warren-Brooks Award for Outstanding Literary Criticism. On top of his academic work, he writes literary journalism, and is represented as an author of fiction by the Wylie Agency.
Anthony Anaxagorou is a British-born Cypriot poet, fiction writer, essayist, publisher and poetry educator. His second collection After the Formalities published with Penned in the Margins is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and was shortlisted for the 2019 T.S Eliot Prize. It was also a Telegraph and Guardian poetry book of the year. In 2020 he published How To Write It with Merky Books; a practical guide to writing fused with tips and memoir. Among awards such as the H-100 Award (2019), Anthony is an honorary fellow of the University of Roehampton, Artistic Director of Out-Spoken, and publisher of Out-Spoken Press.
Sarah Hymas is a poet, artistbook maker and collaborator. Her writing has appeared in print, multimedia exhibits, dance videos, lyrics, pyrotechnical installations, on stage, as an improvised opera and on BBC Radio 4. Since 2014 she has written site-specific pieces told through geocaching, augmented reality, micro print, performance and audio and in 2017 she was shortlisted for the Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Experiment. Her most recent work explores how the marine lyric can inhabit a co-worlding of the human and more-than-human.