Poetry Hub

The University of Hertfordshire School of Humanities Poetry Hub

The Poetry Hub was founded in 2017 to encourage the development of poetry at the University of Hertfordshire and beyond. Co-ordinated by Wayne Holloway-Smith, each year it awards a Fellowship to a leading poet working in the UK, who is invited to give live public readings on campus and to engage with students at all levels of study, through seminars and one-to-one poetry surgeries. The Poetry Hub also runs an annual Single Poem Prize, judged by the Fellow, and, in the interests of accessibility, is free to enter for anyone in the UK.

Current Poetry Fellow

Inua Ellams Inua Ellams

Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist and designer. He is ambassador for Ministry of Stories and his books of poetry include Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars, Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales, The Wire-Headed Heathen and The Half-God of Rainfall – an epic story in verse. His first play The 14th Tale was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his fourth Barbershop Chronicles sold out two runs at England’s National Theatre. He recently completed his first full collection of poetry The Actual. His lives and works in London and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature

Mark Walldron Mark Waldron

Mark Waldron has published two collections with Salt, The Brand New Dark in 2008 and The Itchy Sea in 2011, his third, Meanwhile, Trees and fourth Sweet, Like Rinky-Dink were published by Bloodaxe in 2016 and 2019 respectively. He was selected as a Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2014

Rachel Long Rachel Long

Rachel Long is a poet & the founder of Octavia - Poetry Collective for Women of Colour, who are housed at Southbank Centre, London. Her work has featured in Magma, The London Magazine, and Modern Poetry in Translation. Rachel has taught at The Poetry School, The Poetry Society, Tate Modern, and The Arvon Foundation. She is co-tutor on the Barbican Young Poets programme. Her debut collection, My Darling, from the Lions, was published by Picador in 2020 and shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection

Jane Yeh Jane Yeh

Jane Yeh’s first collection of poems, Marabou, was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Forward, and Aldeburgh poetry prizes. She was named a Next Generation poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2014 for her second collection, The Ninjas. She has been a judge for the National Poetry Competition and the Troubadour International Poetry Prize, and is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University.

Poetry Competition

The University of Hertfordshire Poetry Hub launched the Single Poem Prize in 2018 as part of its commitment to the promotion of contemporary poetics. Find out more about the Poetry competition and the previous winning entries.

Previous Winners

University of Hertfordshire Single Poem Prize 2018

The University of Hertfordshire is delighted to announce the winners of its inaugural Single Poem Prize. The prize was launched in conjunction with the University’s Poetry Hub, founded in 2017 to encourage the development and study of contemporary poetics.

Judged by Hub fellows Jane Yeh and Mark Waldron, and chaired by Wayne Holloway-Smith, the prize was open to anyone living in the UK, and free to enter in the interests of fairness and inclusivity. The winning poem received £500, with £100 and £50 awarded to second and third placed respectively. The judges also awarded 4 commendations.

Winning and commended poems are published here:

Winners

1st Place: No More Crows by Gemma Lovell,

2nd Place: Anne by Alex Bell

3rd Place: Eight Algorithms For The Self-Driving Self by Niall Bourke, London

Commendations

Imaginary Shame Artworks by Lucy Tunstall,

Tell me if you prefer your carrots as sticks or coins and I'll always remember by Jenna Clake,

The week by Imogen Turner,

Working Out by James Giddings,

Judges Report

Wayne Holloway-Smith:

The success of this competition, both in the large number of submissions received and the strength of poems available, evidences a contemporary poetry scene which keeps on growing. It’s wonderful that the University is committed to contributing to that growth through the opportunity of this new prize. The judges worked extremely hard to produce a selection of poems which reflects the high level of work emerging in the UK.

On the experience of judging the competition, Mark Waldron writes:

Mostly I only ever see the winners and shortlists of poetry competitions, and those poems do nothing to suggest the great mass of writing hidden beneath those few that are ultimately

selected. Reading the poems submitted for this prize, I was amazed at the sheer amount of surprise, wit, inventiveness and boldness I found in them. Sometimes I worry that there’s a kind of homogeneity of tone creeping into contemporary English language poetry but that is very obviously not the case. I read really accomplished poetry in a huge range of different styles from concrete poems to rhymed couplets. We’ve all read countless statements by judges of competitions saying how impressed they were by the quality of the entries. I suppose one more won’t hurt…

Jane Yeh writes:

It was a genuine pleasure to be a judge for the inaugural University of Hertfordshire Single Poem Prize. I was struck both by the number of entries for such a newly established competition (perhaps due in part to the lack of an entry fee, which is wonderful) and by the unusually high quality of the poems overall. Much of the work felt fresh and contemporary, with an admirable level of sophistication; and the variety of approaches and subjects made for quite enjoyable reading. It’s inspiring to see so many talented writers dedicating their energies to poetry. Sincere thanks to everyone who entered for sharing their work with us, and best of luck in your future endeavours.

About the judges

Jane Yeh

Jane Yeh

Jane Yeh’s first collection of poems, Marabou, was shortlisted for the Whitbread, Forward, and Aldeburgh poetry prizes. She was named a Next Generation poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2014 for her second collection, The Ninjas. She has been a judge for the National Poetry Competition and the Troubadour International Poetry Prize, and is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the Open University.

Mark Waldron

Mark Waldron

Mark Waldron published two collections with Salt, The Brand New Dark in 2008 and The Itchy Sea in 2011, his third, Meanwhile, Trees was published by Bloodaxe in 2016. He was selected as a Next Generation Poet by the Poetry Book Society in 2014.

Wayne Holloway-Smith

Wayne Holloway-Smith’s first collection, Alarum, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2017, and shortlisted for The Roehampton Poetry Prize, and a Poetry Book Society Guest Selection in the same year. He won The Poetry Society’s Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2016. His is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire.

Poetry surgery

On Wednesday 14 March 2018, The School of Humanities Poetry Fellow Mark Waldron held an open access Poetry Surgery, as part of the new activities initiated by The Poetry Hub. This was an opportunity, unique to the university, in which anyone who would like feedback on their poetry could book a slot with Mark, to discuss their work and gain the invaluable insight of one of the UK's leading voices. The event was successfully received by a number of students, every slot being filled within one week of its advertisement.

Mark Waldron said of this experience:

I really enjoyed working with the students at Herts. Saw inspiring work of a really high standard in a great range of really distinctive voices. I’m also very impressed to see the school investing in this kind of experience for their students.

Level 6 History and Creative Writing Student, Denis O’Malley said:

I found the poetry surgery with Mark Waldron hugely helpful. Having a fresh pair of eyes, from someone who doesn’t personally know you, read through your work and give you feedback helps to give you a brand new perspective on your work. Especially someone who is as highly regarded in his field as Mark. Even though you are showing your work to a stranger, the atmosphere is relaxed, which helps you feel more comfortable in what could be an anxious situation. Mark was very positive and had some insightful suggestions for minor changes that I would not have thought of, but which I feel have helped me make my poems stronger. I would highly recommend that anybody who has the chance take up the offer of any future surgeries.

For more information about the Poetry Hub and for future events, please contact Wayne Holloway-Smith