British poet Gillian Allnutt is to be awarded Her Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2016.
The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry, and will be presented to Gillian Allnutt by the Queen next year.
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy said: "From her first collection published in the early 1980s, Gillian Allnutt’s work has always been in conversation with the natural world and the spiritual life. Her writing roams across centuries, very different histories and lives, and draws together, without excuse or explanation, moments which link across country, class, culture and time.
"The North is a constant touchstone in her work; canny and uncanny, its hills and coast, its ancient histories and its people. Her poems progress over the years to a kind of synthesis of word-play and meditation. In her work the space between what is offered and what is withheld is every bit as important as what is said. She has the power to comfort and to astonish in equal measure. In her outlook, her imagination, her concerns and her lyric voice she is unique."
Allnut's retrospective How the Bicycle Shone: New & Selected Poems draws on six published books plus a new collection, Wolf Light, and was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation. Her latest collection is indwelling (2013). All books are published by Bloodaxe.
Allnutt said: "When Carol Ann Duffy e-mailed in November asking for my phone number - to talk, as she said, about ‘a poetry thing’ - I was truly surprised and delighted when the ‘thing’ turned out to be nothing less than The Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
"I am sad, though, that my mother is no longer here. She was always a staunch supporter of my choice to be a poet and she would have been so proud. Born in 1924, two years before the Queen, she often used to tell us, my sisters and me, about the way the Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose helped, through their visible presence, to keep the home fires burning during the war.
"Now I look forward to the honour of meeting [the Queen] in person. When I undertook to do a writing residency with asylum seekers in 2009/10 I felt privileged and grateful to have contact with those people through something, writing, that is so central a part of me. It is an equal privilege, now, and I am grateful, to be able to imagine meeting the Queen herself - and in connection with nothing less than that same old, dear old ‘poetry thing’."
Allnutt is the fifth poet published by Bloodaxe to be honoured with the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry; the others being Imtiaz Dharker (2014), John Agard (2012), Fleur Adcock (2006) and the late R S Thomas (1964).