The Polari Prize will celebrate a decade of championing fresh literary talent this year with a UK tour for its literary salon as submissions open for its flagship First Book Prize.
The award for debut writers is the only one of its kind in the UK. It will return in 2020 alongside the new Polari Prize, introduced last year, which honours an overall best book of the year.
The UK’s LGBTQ+ literary salon Polari was founded in the room above a Soho bar in 2007 by novelist and activist Paul Burston, one of the founding editors of Attitude magazine. The First Book Prize was launched by Burston in 2011 to improve diversity in the UK literary scene and celebrate the debut achievements of writers exploring the LGBTQ+ experience.
Burston said: “When we launched the Polari First Book Prize in 2011, we couldn’t have imagined the wealth of LGBTQ+ literary talent out there. In 10 years we’ve seen an enormously diverse range of writers win the prize, many of whom have gone on to become mainstream successes. Mari Hannah and John McCullough are just two examples. As we mark our tenth anniversary with our biggest tour yet, we’re grateful to the Arts Council and our sponsors for their continued support and excited at the prospect of discovering new and ever more diverse voices.”
Leading literary PR consultancy FMcM Associates will continue its sponsorship of the Polari First Book Prize, with winners receiving a cheque for £1,000. The winner will be chosen by a panel of authors and industry professionals including 2019 winner, novelist Angela Chadwick, alongside Rachel Holmes, Cerys Evans, and Keith Jarrett.
In its second year, the Polari Prize will continue to be sponsored by D H H Literary Agency, with the winner receiving a cheque for £2,000. The judging panel includes inaugural prize-winner Andrew McMillan, who won with his intimate poetry collection Playtime, alongside Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble, and V G Lee. Both prize panels will be chaired by founder, journalist and author Paul Burston. Longlists will be revealed on 23rd June and shortlists on 31st July, with the winners being crowned in October, all taking place at the Southbank Centre.