Meet the Judge: Luke Kennard

Meet the judge for the 2020 New Poets Prize, and discover what he will be looking for in the winning collections.

Luke Kennard is a poet and novelist. The author of five collections of poetry, his debut The Solex Brothers received an Eric Gregory Award in 2005 and his second, The Harbour Beyond the Movie was shortlisted for the Forward Prize in 2007 making him, at that point, the youngest writer ever to have been nominated. His most recent collection, Cain, was shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize in 2017. He lectures at the University of Birmingham.

Luke Kennard on Judging the 2020 New Poets Prize

“Reading for a competition is similar to browsing a bookshop, except hopefully more thorough. I suppose I look for the poems that surprise me, trouble me, challenge or console me; the ones I wish I’d written. But that can come in so many different forms and aesthetics (even aesthetics that sit in opposition to one another) which I’m very much open to. I’ve always loved the intensity of the pamphlet form, so I’m not necessarily looking for a complete sequence, but some sense of coherence and subtle dialogue between the poems.”

Hear Luke Kennard read his poem ‘Cain Reverses Time’ from his latest collection, Cain (Penned in the Margins, 2017)

Endlessly inventive, bruisingly direct, and rich with a desperate, defensive humour – Joe Dunthorne 

Winner of the British Book Design & Production Awards 2016
Guardian Best Books of 2016 
Poetry School Books of the Year 2016
Shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize 2017