Women Poets’ Prize 2018 Shortlist

The Rebecca Swift Foundation is deeply excited to share the shortlist for the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize. In its first year, the Foundation received an unexpectedly high number of applications – 573, to be precise – with poems of an incredible standard.

Our Judges, Sarah Howe, Moniza Alvi, and Fiona Sampson, selected nine poets from a longlist of forty poets chosen by an initial reading panel. Each of the Judges was impressed by the standard and breadth of submissions – praising the quality of the works as well as the range of applications received from poets across ages, ethnicities, and career stages.

They describe the work from the shortlist as being ‘subtle, transformative, distinctive and powerful’, arising from sophisticated poets who have ‘found their voices.’

The nine shortlisted poets are as follows:

Alice Hiller
Alice Hiller was awarded a 2017-18 Jerwood Arvon Mentorship and Commended in the 2018 Hippocrates Prize. An activist poet, she is working towards her first collection, aperture, about sexual abuse in childhood, while blogging contextual, documentary essays. She reviews for Poetry Review, and published The T-Shirt Book with Ebury Press. @alice_hiller 

Anita Pati
Anita Pati lives in London but was born and brought up in a northern seaside town. She is working towards her first poetry pamphlet. @patiani

Bryony Littlefair
Bryony Littlefair works for a community centre in Kilburn and for literature charity The Reader. Her poetry has appeared in various magazines and her pamphlet Giraffe was published by Seren Books in 2017. @B_Littlefair

Claire Collison
Claire Collison uses word and image in equal measure. Shortlisted for the Bridport, Flambard, Poetry Business, Resurgence and Hippocrates prizes, she was commissioned to write for Refugee Tales at the Aldeburgh Festival. Artist-in-residence at the Women’s Art Library, Claire performs her single-breasted life modelling monologue, Truth is Beauty. @clairecollison1

Em Strang
Em Strang is a prison tutor and facilitator of workshops in Embodied Poetry. Her writing preoccupations are with ‘nature’, spirituality and the relationship between the human and non-human. Em’s first full collection, Bird-Woman (Shearsman, 2016), was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Best First Collection Prize, and won the 2017 Saltire Book of the Year Award. em-strang.co.uk

Holly Hopkins
Holly Hopkins’ debut pamphlet, Soon Every House Will Have One, won the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition and was a PBS Pamphlet Choice. She’s received an Eric Gregory Award and a Hawthornden Fellowship. Holly manages the Forward Prizes for Poetry, has edited The Rialto, and organises live poetry events. @HRHopkins

Jenna Clake
Jenna Clake’s debut poetry collection, Fortune Cookie, was awarded the Melita Hume Prize and shortlisted for a Somerset Maugham Award. A pamphlet of her poems, CLAKE / Interview for is forthcoming from Verve Poetry Press. In 2018, she was awarded an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors. @jennaclake

Jemilea Wisdom-Baako
Jemilea Wisdom-Baako is a British-Jamaican poet, writer and founder of Writerz and Scribez CIC. A Callaloo Fellow and a London Writers Award recipient, her work has been widely commissioned and appears in Pittsburgh Poetry Review and The Good Journal. @PoeticJemz

Nina Mingya Powles
Nina Mingya Powles is a writer from New Zealand living in London. She is the author of Luminescent (2017) and Girls of the Drift (2014), and her poetry pamphlet Field Notes on a Downpour is forthcoming from If A Leaf Falls Press. She is Poetry Editor at the Shanghai Review, and won the 2018 Jane Martin Poetry Prize. @ninamingya


On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we offer our sincere thanks and encouragement to every applicant who submitted work for the Prize this year. 

The three Women Poets’ Prize winners will be announced at the end of October.