Poet Laureate announces inaugural Brotherton Poetry Prize winner

Professor Simon Armitage has performed one of his first official duties since becoming Poet Laureate – announcing the winner of our new poetry prize.

Professor Simon Armitage (centre), the new Poet Laureate, with judges and finalists in the inaugural Brotherton Poetry Prize

Professor Simon Armitage (centre), the new Poet Laureate, with judges and finalists in the inaugural Brotherton Poetry Prize. June 2019

Dane Holt, a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast, will receive mentoring and support from the Professor of Poetry at Leeds and our poetry centre.

Selected from almost 400 entries, the winner of the Brotherton Poetry Prize was announced during an event on Monday 10 June, after all five shortlisted poets read one of their five submitted poems.

Mr Holt, who is originally from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, said he is looking forward to working with Professor Armitage.

“Simon Armitage was the first poet I ever read,” he added.

The prize, launched last year, aims to nurture previously unpublished poets. The runners-up were Sheffield-based Pete Green; Maeve Henry, from Oxford; Majella Kelly, from Tuam in Ireland; and Robyn Maree Pickens, from Dunedin in New Zealand.

The choice was unanimous among the judges – writer and broadcaster Lord Melvyn Bragg; poets and Douglas Caster Cultural Fellows Vahni Capildeo and Malika Booker; University Librarian Dr Stella Butler; Poetry Centre Director Professor John Whale, and Professor Armitage.

Dane Holt, the inaugural Brotherton Poetry Prize winner. June 2019Dane Holt, the inaugural Brotherton Poetry Prize winner 

Professor Armitage said: “The fact there were so many outstanding submissions to this new poetry prize confirms to me that the art form is healthy and vibrant, with no let-up in the number of people wanting to take language seriously and work with it in a considered and thought-provoking way.

“Our very strong shortlist could have been many times longer.”

Lord Bragg, who in 2017 stood down after 18 years as Chancellor at Leeds, said: “I was very impressed by the range of entries. Some of the subjects were learned and classical, others could not have been more contemporary. The prize obviously tapped into a rich store.

“It’s very encouraging to see that poetry at its roots is in such great shape.”

Professor Whale said: “The award of the first Brotherton Poetry Prize is an exciting moment for the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. Our aim in establishing the prize was to be able to identify and support new poets and we are delighted with the outcome.

“Our shortlisted poets all have distinctive voices and a firm commitment to their craft. We look forward to working with them.”

And Dr Butler added: “We hope the prize encourages the next generation of poets to draw inspiration from the library’s wonderful literary archives and other special collections.

“Libraries are about creativity and excellence, and the prize has produced both!”

The prize was open to anyone over 18 who had not yet published a full collection of poems. The winner receives £1,000 and the opportunity to develop their creative practice with the poetry centre. The four runners-up each receive £200.

The poems of all five shortlisted writers will now be published in an anthology by respected publisher Carcanet, and they will be invited to take part in a series of readings and events on campus and at other Yorkshire venues.

The prize has been generously supported by the Charles Brotherton Trust. Brotherton’s uncle, Lord Edward Brotherton of Wakefield, was a Yorkshire industrialist and philanthropist, who funded the iconic University library building that bears his name.

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