Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

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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.

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

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 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 has been approved from 2015.