Our Women Poets: The Story So Far

Aki Schilz News

A brief look at what our first three WomenPoetsPrize winners have been up to…

Just over a year ago, the winners of the Rebecca Swift Foundation’s inaugural Women Poets’ Prize were announced. In the time since then, the three winning poets, Anita Pati, Nina Mingya Powles, and Claire Collison, have been busy blazing exciting trails as poets and artists, both within and beyond the offerings of the Prize and its partner organisations.

The Rebecca Swift Foundation is incredibly proud of the achievements and accolades that Claire, Nina and Anita continue to accumulate, and we look forward to more of the same!

Here’s a little of what they’ve each been busy with.

Anita Pati

Anita was longlisted for the National Poetry Competition in March 2019. In addition, she was the winner of the 2019 Rialto Pamphlet Competition, following which her debut pamphlet Dodo Provocateur was published this September. Anita also won third prize in the Poetry London Clore Prize and read her winning poem ‘Manju’ at King’s Place in October. Most recently, Dodo Provocateur was named as one of five pamphlets shortlisted for a Michael Marks Award. Judges described Anita’s poems as showing an ‘exuberant and energised approach to language’ applied skilfully ‘with dazzling joy’ to a plethora of subject matters.

Claire Collison

In her own words:

‘This summer I was awarded Arts Council England funding and Metal Culture residencies for my participatory walks, ‘An Intimate Tour of Breasts’, and my single-breasted life modelling monologue, ‘Truth is Beauty’, written in the five years since being diagnosed with breast cancer, and incorporating my poetry. So it’s been a hectic few months: I’ve been performing and exhibiting in Peterborough and Liverpool, at the Ministry of Justice, and as part of ‘Women, Protest, Power’ at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery. The project, which culminates on International Women’s Day next year, has generated exciting new collaborations, and featured in a range of exhibitions, including an upcoming gig with Corrupted Poetry at the Poetry Library. There’s an in-depth interview about the project on The Big Draw blog, here.

‘Some of my poems have been published in recent anthologies, including Second Place Rosette: Poems about Britain, (Emma Press), and The Valley Press Anthology of Prose Poetry (Valley Press), and in magazines, including Butcher’s Dog, and Finished Creatures.

‘I was also shortlisted for The Rialto Pamphlet Prize, and The Bridport Prize, and long listed for Troubadour International Poetry Prize, Primers 5, and Outspoken Prize for Poetry.’

Nina Mingya Powles

This year Nina founded Bitter Melon, a small press which publishes limited-edition, handmade poetry pamphlets by Asian diaspora poets. The first two titles are by Jay G. Ying and Jennifer Wong. 

Nina was also a finalist for the 2019 Sarah Broom Poetry Prize, and co-winner of the 2019 Landfall Essay Competition. Her essay, “Tender Gardens”, is published in the latest issue of Landfall, New Zealand’s foremost arts and literary journal. This November, Nina was involved in three events at Verb Wellington Writers’ Festival, including a poetry workshop and a talk on food writing with Rose Lu

Additionally, this December Nine Arches Press announced the upcoming release of Nina’s debut UK collection, Magnolia, 木蘭. The collection, described as ‘deft and dazzling’ by editor Jane Commane, arrives in July 2020.

Finally, Nina was recently announced as the winner of the inaugural Nan Shepherd Prize for Nature Writing, for her submission titled Small Bodies of Water. Through the award, run by Canongate, Nina has secured a publishing deal and editorial mentorship, with her collection of essays set for hardback release in August 2021 

We are so proud of all three poets, and we have so enjoyed working with them, through mentoring, worskshops, bookbinding and more, as part of the Women Poets’ Prize. A big thank you to all the donors who have made supporting these amazing women possible, and to our industry partners who have offered additional support and inspiration (and some goodie bags along the way!).