The Royal Society of Literature has revealed the six recipients of its 2018 RSL Literature Matters Awards which provides writers with financial support to undertake a new literary project.
The judges for the awards this year were writers Jonathan Keates, Imtiaz Dharker and Gillian Slovo.
Poet Matt Bryden was awarded £2,320 for his poetry pamphlet "Lost and Found" based on a residency at Bristol Temple Meads train station. The judges loved the "concept of a Railway Lost Property Office re-imagined in terms of myth and legend".
Bryden runs the Somerset Young Poets competition, and is the author of Night Porter (Templar Poetry), which won the Templar Pamphlet prize in 2010, and of the collection Boxing the Compass (Templar Poetry).
Bryden said the award provides the "boost" of having his project recognised by writers he admires.
Writer Michael Caines was granted £3,000 for his project Brixton Review of Books, a free literary newspaper to be published and distributed on a regular basis. Slovo admired the "intention to turn the usual tired giveaways to commuters into something that could provoke and expand an appreciation of literature in London."
Caines works at the Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of Shakespeare and the Eighteenth Century (Oxford University Press).
Meanwhile, Kate Clanchy was awarded £3,800 for The Young Person’s International Dictionary of Rare and Precious Words. Clanchy will be working with schoolchildren, especially those from disadvantaged and refugee backgrounds, to collect precious words for ‘dictionary’ entries and an anthology. In Dharker’s view, Clanchy is someone who "brings poetry out of students who often hardly speak at all, many of them migrants or refugees from war zones".
Clanchy has won literary awards for her poetry, short stories, and non-fiction. For the last nine years she has been working in her local school, Oxford Spires Academy, to create a unique Poetry Hub. She said: "my work in school is always on a shoestring: this Award makes me feel much less financially pressured, and very much more valued".
Owen Lowery was granted £2,800 for a production of poetry, music and film, inspired by the poetry of RS Thomas. The judges said the mixed-media homage to Thomas is a "tribute long overdue", celebrating one of Wales’s "most idiosyncratic and sharply-defined poetic voices".
Lowery is a former British Judo champion, and tetraplegic. His work has appeared in PN Review, The Times, and the Guardian, and he has published two collections, Otherwise Unchanged, (Carcanet), and Rego Retold (Carcanet).
Pascale Petit was awarded £3,000 for Tiger Girl, a sequence of poems exploring foreignness, in the context of Brexit Britain and her grandmother’s Indian heritage.
Petit was born in Paris. Her seventh collection, Mama Amazonica (Bloodaxe), was a Poetry Book Society Choice. Her sixth, Fauverie (Seren), was her fourth to be shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, and five poems from it won the Manchester Poetry Prize. In 2015 she received a Cholmondeley Award.
Petit said: "I especially appreciate having my project validated by the RSL, as a foreigner writing about Brexit and my French and Indian heritage."
Also awarded a grant was Evan Placey who was presented with £5,000 for his new stage play exploring dementia and ageing in prisons, "Cat A".
Slovo considered this project "a wonderful example of writing’s ability to shine a light on the world we live in and, as well, to connect with diverse audiences and participants".
Placey is a Canadian-British playwright and screenwriter. His plays include "Banana Boys" (Hampstead Theatre), "How Was It For You?" (Unicorn Theatre) and "Pronoun" (National Theatre Connections).
He said: "Receiving this award from the RSL has given me huge encouragement and will allow me to work with a marginalised demographic in prison to write a story that is often hidden".