The University of Hertfordshire is delighted to announce the winners of its 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 Rachel Long 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 5 commendations.
Winning and commended poems are published here:
1st Place: Getting Out by Mathilda Armiger, Norwich
2nd Place: Fairground by James Roome, Manchester
3rd Place: Vow, Baby by James Howard, London
Sleepwalker (Song for Rona Hartner) by Miruna Fulgeanu
Drame bourgeois by Oliver Sedano-Jones, London
WANT (after Kim Addonizio) by Erin Bolens, London
I ate all your car mints now my mouth tastes like seatbelts by Daniel Bick, Exeter
The Hunt (after Jamie McKendrick) by Annie Fan, Rugby
It is incredibly satisfying to see how much this competition has grown. Now in its second year, the volume and standard of entries has increased significantly, alongside a greater range of voices and styles.
This underscores my understanding of contemporary UK poetry, in that it is an exciting arena in which new practitioners are emerging at a frightening rate. The judges gave rigorous attention to the pieces submitted and have produced a group of winners whose work articulates the imagination and skill of these new voices, ready to make valuable contributions to the art.
What a joy to judge this years poetry competition alongside the inimitable Mark Waldron. Some might have assumed that Mark and I might have very different tastes when it came to what we were looking for in a poem, but we both wanted to be moved somehow - by an image or turn of phrase, a command of the page; we both liked to laugh and be delighted by a poem getting strange without warning. The winning entries are those we felt did the most with their strange, or made us smile the most, or made us nod and go mmmm for the longest time. A huge congratulations to the winners, and to the commended poets, and also to all those who entered. There is also a glory in being brave, in sending your work out in hope.
Reading each poem in the virtual pile of submissions felt a bit like unwrapping a present, in the sense that you never knew what you were going to get. The winning and commended poems have one thing in common, they were all surprising in their own very distinct ways, either because of a turn taken, a subject, a striking image or series of them, a style unlike any fashionable style, or all of those things. When you turned over one of the winners you had that sense of, oh yes, that’s what I wanted for Christmas, and I didn’t even know it.
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.
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’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. He is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hertfordshire.
Find out more about the Inaugural Poetry Competition and the winning entries.