Women Poets’ Prize 2022 launches with a new festival in partnership with the National Centre for Writing

Degna Stone News

  • Writers and artists including Helen Mort, Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Sophie Herxheimer lead programme of workshops and performances, with the 2022 winners announced live at Dragon Hall in Norwich
  • New festival looks to prioritise accessibility and hybridity, ensuring remote attendees equally catered for
  • Submissions now open for the third prize year, judged by Penelope Shuttle, Nikita Gill and Abi Palmer

The biennial Women Poets’ Prize, founded by the Rebecca Swift Foundation, has announced a new one-day festival in the autumn, in partnership with the National Centre for Writing. Honouring Rebecca Swift’s two key passions – poetry and women’s empowerment – the prize is awarded to three women writers who each receive a holistic package that combines financial aid, creative development, well-being, and pastoral support.

Tickets are on sale now for the event taking place on Saturday, 19th November at the National Centre for Writing (NCW) in Norwich UNESCO City of Literature. The new festival will be a fully hybrid event, in which a specially curated digital space will provide an equally excellent experience for remote attendees, facilitated by spoken word and multimedia artist Paula Varjack.

Situated in the medieval Dragon Hall, the festival will offer BSL interpreters, live captions on all digital content, and childcare bursaries, putting great emphasis on accessibility. There will be ‘Fallow’ play spaces for inspiration and connection, facilitated by poet and artist Sophie Herxheimer, and guided meditation in the morning led by Roz Goddard. Workshops include a session on creating a poetry project, held by Victoria Adukwei Bulley, a previous Project Manager for the prize, whose debut Quiet has just been published to great acclaim.

Award-winning author and mentor Helen Mort ()will also be giving a talk on pagecraft. In 2019 Helen published her debut novel Black Car Burning, which followed two poetry collections and a short story collection. Debris Stevenson, a writer, dancer, MC and actor, whose grime album and musical Poet in da Corner was critically acclaimed, will give a session on incorporating the body and movement into your writing practice.

Kirsten Luckins, Project Manager at the Rebecca Swift Foundation, said: “It’s a pleasure and a privilege to work with the National Centre for Writing, whose stunning venue promises to bring a real sense of occasion to a very special day for delegates and prize winners alike. We’re excited that together we can provide a top quality, accessible experience for women poets attending both in-person and online.”

Holly Ainley, Head of Programmes and Creative Engagement for National Centre for Writing, said: “The work of the Rebecca Swift Foundation is close to the heart of the National Centre for Writing in how seeks to equip and empower writers with new opportunities and networks. We are delighted to be supporting the inaugural Women Poets’ Festival – both in person Norwich’s historic Dragon Hall and for online attendees – and look forward to providing a unique backdrop for what promises to be creative, energising and celebratory day.”

The three 2022 winners will be announced live at the festival by this year’s judges Penelope Shuttle, Abi Palmer and Nikita Gill. Each will receive a £1,000 cash prize, as well as one-to-one mentoring and coaching from The Literary Consultancy, workshops with Faber & Faber, performance coaching with national spoken word charity Apples & Snakes and more.

Submissions for the 2022 prize are now open until Friday, 12th August. The prize is free to enter. For guidelines on how to submit, visit: www.rebeccaswiftfoundation.org/women-poets-prize. A shortlist will be announced on Friday, 14th October 2022.

The Rebecca Swift Foundation thanks FMcM for preparation of this media release.