Tuesday, 31 October 2017

THE 21 BEST POETRY BOOKS OF THE 21 CENTURY



THE PRIZE
FOR THE 21 BEST POETRY BOOKS OF THE 21ST CENTURY, IN ENGLISH

is a one-off major international award, to be judged by a large panel of many leading poets, critics and scholars. It will identify, celebrate and reward the poets and publishers of small, medium and large presses who have created the very best poetry collections in the English language in the past 17 years.

Shortlisted poets and their publisher will both receive £250 each, and an invitation to read at the gala awards ceremony in the UK, AT Pembroke College, Cambridge University, 2018.

The BEST BOOK OF THE 21ST CENTURY will be awarded £2,100, ADDITIONALLY.

ALL 21 winning books will be on display at the gala, and widely publicised at our award-winning blog, and via social media. Submissions close LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY 2018. The shortlist will be announced no later than TWO MONTHS FROM FINAL CLOSURE OF PRIZE.

The judges have been selected to represent all schools and styles of contemporary poetics, and hail from Australia, America, Canada, India, Ireland, and the UK. The full list of judges is listed below, with bios to follow.

ALL SINGLE-AUTHOR POETRY COLLECTIONS, including pamphlets, PUBLISHED 2000-2017 are eligible; this includes all poetry collections, including self-published books (in which case the author would also win the publisher award). The publications must have appeared in physical form on paper, PRINTED in whatever format (i.e. from perfect bound, to loose sheets in a box).

Poets, their publishers, and members of the public who wish to submit (in other words, nominate) a book may do so. Publishers, poets, and the public are free to submit/nominate as many books as they wish. You may nominate your own work.

Once a book has been submitted, it will be publicly recorded (title, author and publisher listed) on our WEB site WITHIN 48 HOURS – duplications will be refunded. Each book will require one copy to be physically submitted within one month of submitting the name. All books are to be posted to the Eyewear postal address: Suite 333, 19-21 Crawford Street, London, UK, W1H 1PJ.

All shortlisted books will go to the judging panel. All other books will be donated to charity shops.

The sifting panel will consist of the Eyewear editorial board, including Todd Swift, Alexandra Payne and Rosanna Hildyard, in consultation with members of the final judges' panel.

NOMINATE HERE: https://eyewearpublishing.submittable.com/submit/85269/the-eyewear-prize-for-the-21-best-printed-poetry-books-of-the-21st-century-in-en

The final judging panel comprises*:

  1.  ALEX HOUEN
  2. AGNIESZKA STUDSZINSKA
  3. ANTHONY CALESHU
  4. CLEA ROBERTS
  5. COLETTE SENSIER
  6. DAVID MUSGRAVE
  7. DAVID WHEATLEY
  8. DIANE BRADY
  9. EDWARD RAGG
  10. IAN BRINTON
  11. ILYA KAMINSKY
  12. JAN OWEN
  13. JOHN GREENING
  14. KATE NOAKES
  15. KAVITA A. JINDAL
  16. KIMBERLY CAMPANELLO
  17. MARIELA GRIFFOR
  18. MARK YAKICH
  19. NIGEL MCLOUGHLIN
  20. PATRICK CHAPMAN
  21. PHILIP HIEBERT
  22. REBECCA GAYLE HOWELL
  23. RISHI DASTIDAR
  24. SEAN SINGER
  25. SHANTA ACHARYA
  26. TIM DOOLEY
  27. TOBY MARTINEZ DE LAS RIVAS
  28. UMIT SINGH DHUGA
  29. USHA KISHORE
  30. ZATA BANKS



* The panel of judges may change, without invalidating the competition, as the large pool of judges guarantees a degree of continuity.



Guidelines

• Submissions must be made via Eyewear Publishing Ltd’s Submittable page. The fee to submit each title is £20. This will help defray the cost of the prize.

• Books must be original work, by a single author, published in the English language in the years 2000 to 2017. There are no restrictions on style or subject matter. Eyewear staff encourage writers from diverse backgrounds, as well as indie and small press poets, to submit their work. SELECTEDS, COLLECTEDS and WORKS OF TRANSLATION will not be considered. POSTHUMOUS collections may be submitted.

Eligibility

All poets over the age of 18 from anywhere in the world are eligible.

Code of Ethics

• All entries will be screened by the Eyewear Publishing Ltd staff.

• Given the large panel size, there are no limits on submissions relating to connections to a particular judge, since we will require each judge to recuse themselves from any decision involving a former or current student, friend, partner, family member, or close colleague.

• Authors’ works of poetry published by Eyewear Publishing Ltd are not eligible.

This prize is given in a spirit of open reflection and welcome, and acknowledges that prizes are by their very nature somewhat invidious - but the alternative - to not seek what appears most worth reading - in an age where the poetry book is always potentially at risk from competing forms of entertainment and media - seems more so.

Note: Eyewear Publishing Ltd reserves the right to cancel the prize due to unforeseen circumstances at any time, at which point, all monies and books submitted will be returned within 3 months.

Friday, 20 October 2017

The Winner of the 8th Fortnight Poetry Prize is...

ANNA DE VAUL FOR ‘Broken Up’

Our 8th winner!


RUNNER-UP: GLEN WILSON – ‘Mouths To Feed’

 THE SHORTLIST

1.      DENIS BERNICKY – ‘The Moose And The Coyote’

2.      ANNE CASEY – ‘Metaphoric Rise’

3.      COLIN DARDIS – ‘Look Out’

4.      ANNA DE VAUL – ‘Broken Up’

5.      JAMES FINNEGAN – ‘Ghost Effect’

6.      SEANIN HUGHES – ‘A Collection Of Small Things’

7.      JOE LINES – ‘Crossing Harbour Street’

8.      SHEY MARQUE – ‘Unpicking A Bird’

9.      JESS NIEBERG – ‘Cherries’

10.  ROCHELLE POTKAR – ‘Atonement’

11.  CARRIE RADNA – ‘Studded Buddhas’

12.  LAURA SEYMOUR – ‘Dry Stone Waller’

13.  MADELEINE STEVENS – ‘The English Student’

14.  GLEN WILSON – ‘Mouths To Feed’

 

Anna (A.E.) De Vaul pictured above writes both prose and poetry. Some of her recent work can be found in The Fenland Reed, Under the Radar, The Literateur, Wasafiri, and The New European. She is also an editor of the literary journal Lighthouse. Her chapbook in progress is Cosmonaut.


Broken Up
 
 I.
 
And so I stand
intestines spilling from my fingers
heart long scattered
to wind and the beaks of birds
who circle now, who see
the blood and the absence
spilling across the pavement

 

II.
 

They've come home to roost
feathers sticking to ribs
and sternum, wingtips poking
liver and spleen
talons curled around collarbones
when they hang to sleep
like bats; some are bats
I can hear the rustle
in my chest, almost rhythmic
I can almost feel the warmth

  

III.
 

When I open my mouth
to sing mites pour out
trickle up my face to my hair
find homes, build nests
wave their legs in time
to the keen of jetplanes
and my battered ukulele

 

IV.

 
There's a sparrow
lodged in my throat
She shivers when I drink
sparkling water, screeches
at Oban and Laphroaig
but she likes the peat and sweet
of Lagavulin, coos and curls
herself into a ball so small
I could almost start eating again

  

V.

 
It's hard to ride a bike
when you've got birds
in your lungs
I cough up pinfeathers
and the hulls of seeds
on the bus, try to hide
my spattered hands
from the grandmothers
sitting silent around me

 
 

VI.

 
Pebbled eggs slip down
through my esophagus
tip and tilt from vertebrae
squeeze past my stomach
and through the ruins
to the cradle of my pelvis
I walk with hips held forward
to protect the fragile shells

 
 

VII.
 

In this city that lacks
the songs of birds
they're the last
of their kind, refugees
bearing witness
to a history
we’d rather wash clean
I can’t help but cling
to their tiny bodies
can’t help but feel
the urge to nurture
to never let them go



copyright 2017 A.E. De Vaul

 

JUDGE'S COMMENTS BY ROSANNA HILDYARD:

And still, poets return to Greece. From Sapphic verses and dactyls – the very structure of English poetry – to Ocean Vuong playing Telemachus, so much comes from the Ancient Greek. And the winning poet this week begins with an image of Prometheus, the god who loved humans so much that he gave us fire, and was cast out of heaven for it. 

Remaking the classics with originality is not easy. What de Vaul has done, impressively, is to take the idea of Prometheus’ protective love, sacrifice and obsession to create a poem that manages to encompass childbirth, fear of death, and the ecosystem in its exploration of a singular image: that of a body containing birds. The ‘Pebbled eggs’ which: 
 
slip down
through my esophagus
tip and tilt from vertebrae
squeeze past my stomach
and through the ruins
to the cradle of my pelvis
 
are both baby and the circular cells of cancer, the image of swallowing eggs allowing us to hold both alien body and pregnancy in our minds. It creates an unsettling idea of invasive foetus, an refreshingly honest view of how pregnancy can feel. And simultaneously, suggests a poignant irony for a body blossoming with cells, which cannot sustain itself, let alone any other life.

Fragility is a theme in this poem, evoked with ‘pinfeathers’, tiny bodies and their tenderest parts, sticking-out hipbones and lungs. The careful descriptions serve as a meditation on the speaker’s own body, and reveal her fear of sensuality and physicality. Indeed, many of the poems this fortnight are reflective of a time when we live longer than ever, yet are therefore more concerned with illness, and have become more and more obsessed with avoiding all reminders of death and decay.

Googling symptoms is normal behaviour, as is following the latest trends in exercise and eating for self-improvement, having plastic surgery and mechanical implants, and buying bloodless, heavily packaged meat. Poems dealt with hypochondria, sense of dissolving self, or the death of something symbolically fragile – there were several about the death of beloved cats, animals which describe the tension between fragility and resilience, or innocence and callousness.

Seanin Hughes’ ‘Cats Get Killed All The Time’ was a worthy contender, however, her poem ‘A Collection of Small Things’ stood out. The repeated thump of the refrain ‘small things’ echoes in the reader’s head. In a long poem the insistence small belies the speaker’s compulsive need to constantly reiterate words and phrases, and is revealing of her mental state. Italicised in a way that goes against every schoolteacherly convention of poetry, the speaker’s restrained desperation is truly evident.

The runner-up, ‘Mouths To Feed’, [TRIGGER WARNING FOR CAT LOVERS LIKE THIS EDITOR] is a deceptively simple poem named for a common figure of speech. Like Seamus Heaney’s ‘The Early Purges’, Glen Wilson deals with the drowning of cats on a farm and the uneasiness produced in an observing child.

Kitten murder is, of course, no laughing matter, but this poem has a particular sense of threat, with an almost medieval atmosphere. The rhythm is built on downbeats: ‘Calloused hands / red with the cold, caked in dark clay’ relies on alliteration for its aural power – it is like Old English poetry, reminiscent of dark battles and binary figures of darkness and light.

The poem as a whole is structured on half-rhymes: ‘behind/stride’, ‘hour/raw’, ‘him/shins’. Each one falls short of what the reader expects. It trips us up. Within the poem, the character of the uncle is strangely unsettling. He is always described with movement, with ‘wriggling’ kittens, ‘ma[king] his way’ down to the brook, his ‘stride’ cowing the dog at his heels. In contrast, the boys in their bedroom and the aunt in the kitchen (domestic slavery) are compartmentalised, powerless.

And, in this poem, stillness is death. The kittens take up ‘circles’ of space, their markings described through movement as ‘runs of ginger’. The shock of their death comes in the description of the empty sack that held them: ‘neat, folded’ – not moving, ‘wriggled and bunched’ as earlier in the poem. Wilson described an ordinary, necessary culling but creates a sense of overhanging menace; there is a feeling that for the parentless boys kept in the bedroom, all does not bode well.

There were many excellent poems this fortnight, carefully crafted voices, and, believe it or not, much humour, which is a bonus for anyone judging a literary prize.

THE 9TH ITERATION IS NOW OPEN, BEING JUDGED BY DR TODD SWIFT!

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