The winners of the 2018/19 New Poets Prize

We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2018/19 New Poets Prize as chosen by Mary Jean Chan. Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all entrants for letting us see your work. 


Abbie Neale 
for her collection Threadbare

Ben Ray 
For his collection The Kindness of the Eel

Callan Waldron-Hall 
For his collection Learning to be Very Soft

Jay G Ying
For his collection Scheherazade

The four winners will receive a year's support, including mentoring, workshops and readings; and their collections will be edited for publication in 2020 as part of The New Poets List, an imprint of The Poetry Business.


Judge's comments

It was a delight to be invited to judge this year's Poetry Business New Poets Prize. The shortlisted collections stood out to me on first reading for their sophisticated work and depth of feeling; however, pinning down the final list of four proved to be a difficult and agonising process. Thank you to everyone who submitted their work.  Mary Jean Chan


Abbie Neale is an English writer and painter currently living in the Netherlands. She graduated in 2018 with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Warwick University. Her poetry has appeared in Strix Magazine and Whirlagust, an anthology by Yaffle Press, and she recently won the international prize in the York Mix Poetry Competition.


This is a powerful collection that trains a keen eye on the realities of toxic masculinity, misogyny and sexual violence. Neale approaches her subject through a combination of confessional, documentary and surrealist modes: "When I fell, the trees and houses were geometric shapes / and I didn't hit the ground, I tore through it."  – Mary Jean Chan



Ben Ray grew up in the Welsh borders and is currently studying EU Public Policy in Warsaw, Poland. He has two collections released with Indigo Dreams Publishing, work included in two anthologies with Seren Books, and his poems have appeared in places such as Confluence, Riggwelter Press & Foxtrot Uniform.


This is a wonderfully eclectic collection that draws its inspiration from sources at once historical and contemporary. Dramatic monologues, knee plays and intertextual responses to other poets are juxtaposed with lyric poems that constantly surprise and delight like "a surreal fruit".  Mary Jean Chan



Callan Waldron-Hall was born in Leicestershire and now lives in Liverpool where he works for an arts organisation. He recently completed an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. His poetry has appeared in Magma and In the Red. His project exploring ASMR featured in Post-it, Liverpool Independents Biennial anthology 2018.


This is a collection suffused with vivid imagery, with various forms of water ("the pool", "the floods", "the river" and "the sea") occurring throughout the text. I admired Waldron-Hall's ability to hone in on the complexity of relationships through verse at once startling and tender.  Mary Jean Chan



Jay G Ying is a writer based in Edinburgh. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The White Review, Ambit, The Scores, The Poetry Review and 3:AM Magazine among others. He is a winner of the Poetry Book Society Student Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for The White Review Poet's Prize. His first pamphlet, Wedding Beasts, is forthcoming from Bitter Melon Poetry.


Taking its cue from Scheherazade, the storyteller in One Thousand and One Nights, this collection is one to be savoured repeatedly. Apart from its formal experimentation, its lyric epiphanies are also a delight: "where every / near thing seemed one lost island away, as unplaceable / as an accent, as unmoored as the passing season." – Mary Jean Chan



Poems by all four winners of the 2018/19 New Poets Prize will feature in the forthcoming issue of The North magazine, issue 62, which is out this August. 

A New Poets Prize winners reading will he held at The Anthony Burgess Foundation in Grasmere in Spring 2020, and the four winning pamphlets will be published in June 2020. 

The 2019/20 New Poets Prize will open for entries on 1st October 2019. 



The Judge


Mary Jean Chan

Mary Jean Chan is a poet, editor and academic from Hong Kong. She was shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and came Second in the 2017 National Poetry Competition. Her debut pamphlet, A Hurry of English, is published by ignitionpress, and was recently selected as the 2018 Poetry Book Society Summer Pamphlet Choice. She is a Ledbury Poetry Critic and an editor of Oxford Poetry. Her debut collection will be published by Faber & Faber in July 2019. Mary Jean is a Lecturer in Creative Writing (Poetry) at Oxford Brookes University, and currently lives in London.





Previous Winners On Winning


Winning the New Poets prize has been such a great thing for me. As well as the obvious benefits - pamphlet publication, the brilliant prize of an Arvon course - I feel like it has really opened the door to the next stage of my development as a writer, and I'm excited to see where, with the support of the Poetry Business, it will take me. – Lizzi Hawkins – Winner of the 2016/17 New Poets Prize

The New Poets Prize came at the right time for me - providing me a critical opportunity to think about how my poems could fit together in a pamphlet, and also giving me the opportunity to receive much-needed feedback from some of the best poetry teachers in the country - both essential processes for any young poet. – Theophilus Kwek – Winner of the 2015/16 New Poets Prize


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