Polari Prize opens for submissions

Polari Prize opens for submissions

The Polari Salon, host to the UK’s only book prizes for emerging and established LGBTQ+ writers, has opened its call to publishers for this year’s awards. 

The Polari First Book Prize, which celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2020, is awarded annually to a debut that explores the LGBTQ+ experience. It has previously been won by writers including John McCullough, Kirsty Logan and Amrou Al-Kadhi. A further award, the Polari Prize, recognises an overall book of the year, excluding debuts, and previous winners include Andrew McMillan and Kate Davies.

A 2020 tour to celebrate the prize’s 10-year anniversary, funded by Arts Council England, was postponed owing to Covid-19 but there are plans for its live events programme to resume later this year. 

Prize founder Paul Burston said: “The past year has been extemely challenging for everyone involved in live arts events. But moving online has also brought new possibilities. We were able to host events with previous prize winners and shortlisted writers now based in other parts of the world. We’ve also reached new audiences across the UK and beyond, with thousands viewing our YouTube channel and hundreds booking for our regular Polari Live online events. Going forward, I see digital events as a vital component of Polari’s mission to develop new audiences and celebrate LGBTQ+ literary talent.”

Literary PR consultancy FMcM Associates will continue its sponsorship of the Polari First Book Prize, with winners receiving a cheque for £1,000.

This year the prize continues its tradition of having the winner of the previous year on each judging panel, with the remaining judges being made up of a distinguished group of authors and industry professionals. For the Polari First Book Prize, the 2021 panel is Amrou Al-Kadhi, Angela Chadwick, Rachel Holmes and Keith Jarrett.

Now in its third 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 Davies, who will join Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble and V G Lee. Both prize panels will be chaired by Burston. Longlists will be announced on 24th June, with a digital events programme planned for the spring and summer.

To submit, writers must be born or based in the UK or Ireland. The deadline for submissions is April 26th but publishers should express their intent to submit by the 12th. All entries must have been published the United Kingdom or Ireland between 2nd February 2020 and 1st February 2021, but may have been previously published outside the UK. Titles with simultaneous UK and US publications within this timeframe are also eligible. Self-published works in print formats are also eligible for the prize. Works should be submitted by the publisher, while self-published works should be submitted together with a letter explaining why the book was self-published.