The 2009 shortlist for the 2009 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize – one of the most important and established poetry prizes in the UK – signals the arrival of five authentic and distinctive poets and a flourishing small press industry.
Judge David Constantine says “contemporary poetry in the UK is thriving” with 2009 seeing a record 92 entries.
Sian Hughes The Missing (Salt Publishing)
J O Morgan Natural Mechanical (C B Editions)
Andrew Philip The Ambulance Box (Salt Publishing)
Philip Rush Big Purple Garden Paintings (Yew Tree Press)
Dawn Wood Quarry (Templar Poetry)
Judge, Mimi Khalvati says “There was a great deal of consensus among the judges: all the books in our final shortlist are either intellectually or emotionally compelling”.
Michael Laskey, Chair of the judging panel says “This is a strong shortlist – five absorbing and very different books that demonstrate the range and relevance of the best contemporary poetry.”
The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize is valuable not just for its cash prize of £3,000, but also for the emphasis on identifying and developing talent. The winner receives a week of ‘protected’ writing time on the inspirational Suffolk coast and – most crucially – a fee-paying invitation to read and participate in the 2010 Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.
The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, established in 1989 was the first award designed to recognise and benefit a poet at first book stage. Supported from 2003-2008 by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation (as the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize), it is one of the UK’s oldest and most influential prizes for contemporary poetry.
The three-poet judging panel was chaired by Michael Laskey with David Constantine and Mimi Khalvati.The winner of The Aldeburgh Fist Collection Prize will be announced on Saturday 7 November during the 21st Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, 6-8 November 2009. The annual Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, this year celebrating its 21st birthday, (6-8 November 2009) is the Trust’s core and most high profile activity. www.thepoetrytrust.org
Previous Aldeburgh First Collection Prize winners include Robin Robertson (1997), Colette Bryce (2000), Henry Shukman (2002) and Nick Laird (2005).
Walking the Block by Jane Weir has been shortlisted in the Literature category of the British Book Design and Production Awards 2009 ( www.britishbookawards.org ). Conceived, written and designed by Jane Weir, who worked with the archives of the Crafts Study Centre in Farnham and the Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester, the book is an innovative and experimental poetic biography of the modernist handblock printers and textile designers, Phyllis Barron and Dorothy, whose work was championed by the art critic Roger Fry and commissioned by numerous clients, including Coco Chanel, Girton College, Cambridge, Winchester Cathedral and the Duke of Westminster. Phyllis and Dorothy upheld the Arts and Crafts tradition of using natural dyes, long after many others had abandoned these for the fast and cheaper chemical dyes. They were particularly interested in indigo, and their work was always hand printed using their own carved wooden and lino blocks. One of their apprentices, Enid Marx, went on to design the upholstery for London Underground carriages among many other public commissions.
The book is experimental in literary terms because very little of their lives is recorded through letters or other documents and Jane Weir has focused on the extensive and meticulously collected sample books and archive collections of their textiles as the primary source in preparing and writing the biography. The sample books held at the Crafts Study Centre were assembled by Phyllis Barron in collaboration with the educationist Roger Tanner and his wife Heather, and they tell the story of their creative lives. There is also an extensive archive of their hand printed textiles held at the Whitworth Art gallery in Manchester.
Barron and Larcher, trained painters, met after the first war at the Brook Street Gallery, London and spent most of their working lives together in Painswick, Gloucestershire, converting the outbuildings of Hambutts House into a studio for the production of their textiles. They worked with a team of local women and apprentices printing lengths of cloth and maintained indigo and other dying vats alongside the large printing tables in an extensive and self contained arts and crafts enterprise.
Jane Weir worked for three years on the book which was also designed by her and printed with vegetable inks on paper manufactured from sustainable forests.
Two other books are shortlisted in the Literature Category: Weeds and Wildflowers (Faber) by Alice Oswald and The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw (Atlantic). The results will be announced at the Awards event in London on 29th October.