We are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 New Poets Prize. Thank you to all entrants for letting us see your work, and congratulations to the four winners chosen by Kim Moore: Hannah Hodgson for her collection, Queen of Hearts; Safia Khan for her collection, Too Much Mirch; Charlotte Knight for her collection, Ways of Healing; and Karl Knights for his collection, Kin.

These four winners will receive a masterclass with Kim Moore and editorial and mentoring support from The Poetry Business, as well as publication in The North 67 (Winter, 2021) and a launch reading upon publication.

The Poetry Business gratefully acknowledges support from Arvon for the 2021 New Poets Prize. Two of the 2021 New Poets Prize winners will be offered a place on an Arvon residential course of their choice in 2021/22.

The winning pamphlets will be published in June 2022 under the New Poets List – an imprint of The Poetry Business.

Judge’s Comment

I genuinely didn’t expect the judging of this competition to be so difficult. The standard of the pamphlets was extraordinarily high, and every single one had things that I loved – whether that was individual stand-out poems, beautiful and haunting lines or an innovative use of form. I ended up reading and re-reading many times and then read the whole of my shortlist aloud to see what the poems sounded like, what the pamphlet felt like as a body of work. My final decision in the end came down to the poems and the voices that wouldn’t let go of me, that I kept remembering as I was taking my daughter to nursery or walking the dog. Each of the final four have an urgency embedded in their work. Fair warning – this is poetry that is transformative, that will change the way you see the world.

Kim Moore

Hannah Hodgson

for her collection, Queen of Hearts

The Queen of Hearts lives in a world where the body is ‘a car aflame / on a hard shoulder’, where the bowel is an ‘octopus … patiently swimming in the dark’ and a stoma bag is ‘an icing bag of shit piped down the toilet’. These poems are scorching in their anger at the way society treats chronic illness and disability, unfailingly precise in their use of metaphor and wildly imaginative in their deployment of surrealism. Every poem in here is a gift which invites the reader to look at the world differently.Kim Moore

Hannah Hodgson is a poet living with life limiting illness. Her work has been published by BBC Arts, The Poetry Society and Magma, amongst other outlets. She is a recipient of a 2020 Northern Writers Award for Poetry. Her first poetry pamphlet, Dear Body, was published by Wayleave Press in 2018; and her second, centred around life with serious illness was published by Verve Poetry Press in Feb 2021. Her first full length poetry collection, 163 Days, is due to be published by Seren in early 2022. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @HodgsonWrites and her website is www.hannahhodgson.com.

Safia Khan

for her collection, Too Much Mirch

The poems in this pamphlet constantly surprised me with their inventiveness with imagery and the way the writer challenges assumptions and stereotypes and turns them inside out. There are stunning poems here about family, racism, misogyny and the interplay between them. A particular strength of this writer is their colourful and lively way of writing about people in all their complexity. My favourite of these is Julie, a hairdresser who is off to a Brexit rally. This poem manages to be both funny and alarming as the poet concludes, ‘This is Julie’s world, we’re all just living in it’. – Kim Moore

Safia Khan is a member of Hive Young Poets and an alumnus of Doncaster Young Writers. She has been published in places like The North, bath magg, Introduction X: The Poetry Business Book of New Poets and several Hive anthologies including Surfing the Twilight and Halfway Smile. She is a medical student with an academic interest in neuroscience and social determinants of health.

Charlotte Knight

for her collection, Ways of Healing

Charlotte Knight’s work will break your heart and slowly put it together again. These are poems that take real risks in their navigation of the difficult landscape of abortion and painful relationships, deploying beautiful lyric phrasing and a playful use of form to create a world where darkness and light, possibility and endings can co-exist together. These are tender, vulnerable poems that explore not only the ways harm is caused but also how we can heal from it. – Kim Moore

Charlotte Knight is a British-Ukrainian poet, studying a Masters at Goldsmiths College. She was commended in the National Poetry Competition (2019), shortlisted for the Outspoken Prize for Poetry, and longlisted for the Women Poets’ Prize (2020). Her work is concerned with the environment, folklore and infertility, and has previously been featured in Magma, SPAM, and Perverse, amongst others.

Karl Knights

for his collection, Kin

This pamphlet took my breath away from the very first poem and haunted me for a long time afterwards. In these beautifully crafted, pared back poems, the poet explores what it means to be disabled in a world that can be both unthinkingly cruel and deliberately malevolent. I really loved the way the writer manages to deploy a wry humour and anger throughout this pamphlet, sometimes in the same poem, sometimes in the same line, or even in the same breath. Not a word is wasted here – it felt as if this is poetry that needed to be written and a pamphlet that deserves to be read and admired widely. – Kim Moore

Karl Knights is a freelance journalist. His poetry and prose has appeared in the Guardian, The Dark Horse and elsewhere. He is a fellow of Zoeglossia, the first writing fellowship solely for disabled writers. He tweets @inadarkwood and lives in Suffolk. Kin is his debut pamphlet.

The New Poets Prize is a pamphlet competition for writers between the ages of 17 and 24 (inclusive). This prize was launched in 2015 and runs annually alongside the renowned Poetry Business International Book & Pamphlet Competition, which has now been established for 35 years. Previous judges of the New Poets Prize include Helen Mort, Andrew McMillan, Kayo Chingonyi, Mary Jean Chan and Luke Kennard. Winners of the New Poets Prize have gone on to publish full-length collections with notable publishers, including Carcanet and Bloodaxe Books, have been appointed as workshop facilitators, editors-in-residence, and competition judges (such as the Forward Prizes), have launched and performed their pamphlets on national radio and at prestigious venues, and have been widely reviewed.

The 2022 New Poets Prize will open for entries on 1st October 2021.

See the list of past winners.

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