Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

Introduction

The winner of the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2014 was announced at the opening of the 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 7th November. From a shortlist of five outstanding titles,  the three judges (Imtiaz Dharker, Robert Seatter and Anthony Wilson)  unanimously agreed that the prize should go to Helen Mort for Division Street which is published in the UK by Chatto & Windus.

Responding to the news of her win, Helen said: Aldeburgh is a place I’ve always held dear – it was one of the first poetry festivals I ever went to and I fell in love with the location and atmosphere. I’m thrilled.

You can read the judges’ comments about Helen’s prizewinning collection by clicking here.

The Poetry Trust now invites submissions from publishers or individual poets for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2015.

The 2015 entry details will be available in early 2015.

The winning poet will receive a cheque for £2,500, a week of paid ‘protected’  writing time on the East Suffolk coast, plus a fee-paying invitation to read at the following Aldeburgh Poetry Festival – a unique opportunity to reach Britain’s largest and most appreciative poetry audience.

The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize was launched in 1989 to coincide with the first Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and is the oldest prize of its kind in the UK. The winner has always received both a cash prize and an invitation to read at the subsequent Festival.

In 2012, thanks to new support from the Fenton Arts Trust, the prize was re-titled The Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. We are delighted that a further three years of funding for the Prize – 2015-2017 – has been approved by the Fenton Arts Trust.

In mid-September 2015 a shortlist of up to five titles will be announced. The 2015 winner will be announced on Friday 6 November at the opening main reading of the 27th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, 7-9 November 2014.

Fenton Arts Trust logo

The Fenton Arts Trust is an arts charity
which focusses its efforts specifically
on the support of artists at the
beginning of their careers.

Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

Poem 17

YUI
At Yui, travellers had a choice: risk drowning at sea or death by bandits
     on Satta Pass. In the garden this morning kill-fish lap
     their bowl indifferent to crows balancing on the rim.
     Ack-ack-ack-ack, crows laugh as they watch fish loop-the-loop.

Kikuyo shivers thinking of travellers peaky as an August moon,
     too close to the edge, torn between safety and danger.
     Trees fall away from the blue-green waters of Suruga,
     four junks head for the point of vanishing.

A grey thought clings to the ledge. He has forgotten. I am not jealous,
     though I know he’s not alone, Kikuyo thinks. She paints
     her bottom lip and chooses the high road. Leaves
     at once as clouds unravel the day.


Nancy Gaffield
Tokaido Road

(CB Editions 2011)

Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

Previous winners

Sue Davies-Scourfield (Trustee, Fenton Arts Trust), Olivia McCannon (2012 winner), Dan O’Brien (2013 winner), Helen Mort (2014 winner) and Stephen Morris (Fenton Arts Trust)

2014 Helen Mort – Division Street (Chatto & Windus)
2013 Dan O’Brien – War Reporter (CB Editions)
2012
Olivia McCannon – Exactly My Own Length (Carcanet)
2011
Nancy Gaffield – Tokaido Road (CB editions)
2010
Christian Campbell – Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree)
2009
J.O. Morgan – Natural Mechanical (CB editions)
2008
Ciaran Berry – The Sphere of Birds (The Gallery Press)
2007
Tiffany Atkinson – Kink and Particle (Seren)
2006
Roger Moulson – Waiting for the Night Rowers (Enitharmon)
2005
Nick Laird – To A Fault (Faber)
2004
Julia Casterton – The Doves of Finisterre (The Rialto)
2003
Martha Kapos – My Night in Cupid’s Palace (Enitharmon)
2003
Helena Nelson – Starlight on Water (The Rialto)
2003
Matthew Welton – The Book of Matthew (Carcanet)
2002
Henry Shukman – In Doctor No’s Garden (Cape)
2001
Esther Morgan – Beyond Calling Distance (Bloodaxe)
2000
Colette Bryce – The Heel of Bernadette (Picador)
1999
Cliff Yates – Henry’s Clock (Smith/Doorstop)
199
8 Tamar Yoseloff – Sweetheart (Slow Dancer Press)
1997
Robin Robertson – A Painted Field (Picador)
1996
Glyn Wright – Could Have Been Funny (Spike)
1995
Gwyneth Lewis – Parables & Faxes (Bloodaxe)
1994
Sue Stewart – Inventing the Fishes (Anvil)
1993
no prize awarded
1992
Susan Wicks – Singing Underwater (Faber)
1991
Mark Roper – The Hen Ark (Peterloo)
1990
Donald Atkinson – A Sleep of Drowned Fathers (Peterloo)
1989
John Lucas – Studying Grosz on the Bus (Peterloo)

Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

How to enter

Any first collection of at least 40 pages with primary publication in the UK and Republic of Ireland between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 is eligible. Submissions can be from publishers or individual poets.

The deadline for receiving three bound or proof copies with a note of the date of publication will be Friday 24th July 2015.

Any first collection of at least 40 pages published in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 is eligible. Books originally published overseas but with UK distribution are NOT eligible.

All entries to:

The Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize
The Poetry Trust
The Cut
9 New Cut
Halesworth
Suffolk IP19 8BY

 

Fenton Arts Trust logo

The Fenton Arts Trust is an arts charity
which focusses its efforts specifically
on the support of artists at the
beginning of their careers.

 

Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

More info

The judges commented on Helen Mort’s Division Street - the 2014 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prizewinner:

Helen Mort negotiates Division Street with the skill of a tightrope walker. This is a poet taking finely-calculated risks with language, putting her life and times on the line, using every ounce of craft to balance on precarious edges.” Imtiaz Dharker

Division Street has it all: range and ambition, consistency of standard (no poem feels like a filler!), musicality and toughness, and poems that really address the here and now, while strangely seeming always to have been there –  such a rightness and a deftness in her voice.” Robert Seatter (Chair)

“On every page there is music, toughness twined with tenderness, and always an amazing sense of control. Division Street is properly and richly ambitious, speaking to culture now in a way that is both eerily prescient (‘Seven Decapitations’) and a mirror to what has been lost (‘Scab’, ‘Pit Closure as a Tarantino Short’). That the book achieves this so consistently, and on so many levels – personal, psychological, historical – without ever sounding less than natural is a cause for celebration.” Anthony Wilson


Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

2011

The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize was launched in 1989 to coincide with the first Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and remains the oldest prize of its kind in the UK. The winner receives both a cash prize and an invitation to read at the subsequent Festival in addition to a paid weeks writing time on the Suffolk coast. The prize is awarded - in the opinion of the judges - to the best first collection of poetry published in printed book form in the UK and Republic of Ireland in the preceding year.

In 2010 the Prize was awarded to young Caribbean poet Christian Campbell for Running the Dusk (Peepal Tree Press).

Judge Jo Shapcott praised the collection as a “bravura performance” describing Campbell’s poems as “energetic, fluid and musical and full of loss, hope and imagination. “The book, which was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, was described by fellow judge Neil Rollinson as “the clear stand out among all the volumes I read.”

Campbell responded to news of his win with:
Let’s just say that I’m ‘feeling good’ in the Nina Simone way! I’m honoured to be a part of a moment of great energy and transformation in contemporary poetry in the UK. It’s very, very difficult for any young poet, and for any Caribbean poet, to get this level of recognition.

Previous winners of the prize include Tiffany Atkinson, Colette Bryce, Nick Laird, Esther Morgan, Robin Robertson, Henry Shukman and Susan Wicks.