Indie poetry presses dominate Ledbury second collections prize

Indie poetry presses dominate Ledbury second collections prize

Independent poetry presses including Penned in the Margins and Bloodaxe Books dominate this year's shortlist for the Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections, which this year is characterised by work exploring climate change.

The prize was set up in 2016 as the first "mid-career" prize for poetry. It aims to support and encourage poets with £5,000 for a winning second collection. In assessing the shortlisted works, the judges will also read the poets’ first collections and take account of how their work has developed from debut to second book. 

Bloodaxe Books has two authors in the running; Wayne Hollway-Smith's Love Minus Love, which was shortlisted for the 2020 T S Eliot Prize, and The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran, which won a Northern Writers' Award and a Poetry Book Society recommendation.

Also nominated 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) and Tigress by Jessica Mookherjee (Nine Arches Press).

Judges Naomi Shihab Nye and Sandeep Parmar selected the seven books from poets whose work is characterised by "ambition and risk".

Commenting on the shortlist, Shihab Nye said: “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'." 

Ledbury Poetry Festival’s artistic director, Chloe Garner, said: “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 the Ledbury Poetry Festival’s work, is to nourish and fortify poets so they can grow and flourish.”

The winner will be announced at a Zoom event on 7th December.