The Ledbury Poetry Critics programme is to take on its largest group of mentees this year, expanding the programme to 18 candidates.
The scheme sees established poetry critics paired with emerging critics of colour for a year's mentoring, requiring them to be strongly committed to becoming a poetry critic in the very near future and keen to explore issues of diversity in British poetry. It has now been awarded funding by an Arts and Humanities Research Council EDI Fellowship to expand.
Each of the mentees will be assigned a poetry critic mentor with experience reviewing for national journals, magazines (print and online) and broadsheet newspapers. This year's intake features Amaan Hyder, Annie Fan, April Yee, Chloe Hasti Crowther, Esther Heller, Gazelle Mba, Helen Bowell, Isabelle Baafi, Leah Jun Oh, Maggie Wang, Mantra Mukim, Devina Shah, Memoona Zahid, Niroshini Somasundaram, Oluwaseun Olayiwola, Pratyusha Prakash, Shalini Sengupta and Shash Trevett.
Mentors are Sarah Howe, Sandeep Parmar, Vidyan Ravinthiran, Jane Yeh, Will Harris, Jay G Ying, Vahni Capildeo, Kit Fan, Nisha Ramayya, Jeremy Noel-Tod, Dzifa Benson, Jade Cuttle, Dave Coates, Khairani Barokka, Leo Boix, Seán Hewitt and Yvette Siegert.
The 2021 intake will participate in a series of free public panel events, workshops and masterclasses. These will be hosted by partner organisations, including the London Review of Books, the Royal Society of Literature, the Scottish BAME Writers' Network, the Forward Arts Foundation, Spread the Word, Poetry Ireland and Literature Wales.
Founded by Parmar and Howe, the programme launched in 2017 in collaboration with Ledbury Poetry Festival.
Parmar said: “My sense is that in the long-term, critics of colour will find in-roads into every poetry reviewing platform, and editors will be encouraged, by a revived interest in reviewing, to raise the profile of reviewing on their page. Oon the whole, the programme has received tremendous support from editors and, where necessary, we will keep reminding those few who have yet to take action.”