Women Poets’ Prize Launch at Second Home Festival

Aki Schilz News

The Rebecca Swift Foundation launched the Women Poets’ Prize at the Second Home Festival of Poetry on June 9th. The event featured readings by acclaimed poets Mona Arshi, Rachel Long, and Martha Sprackland, a panel discussion, and a special guest reading by Moniza Alvi.

About the Women Poets’ Prize

Launching a year on from Rebecca’s passing, 2018 marks the inaugural Women Poets’ Prize – a biennial award seeking to honour Rebecca’s two key passions: poetry and the empowerment of women. The Prize will be awarded to three female-identifying poets. Each winner will be carefully matched with a poetry mentor in addition to a pastoral coach, facilitating a holistic body of support that nurtures craft and personal wellbeing in equal measure. The Prize will also offer a programme of support and creative professional development opportunities with the Foundation’s partners: Faber and Faber, The Literary Consultancy, RADA, City Lit, Verve Festival, Bath Spa University, and The Poetry School. In addition to these opportunities which constitute the Women Poets’ Prize professional grant, each successful poet will each receive a cash bursary of £1,000.

The Women Poets’ Prize is free to enter and will open online at the website here on June 9th 2018.

The 2018 prize will be judged by Fiona Sampson, Moniza Alvi, and Sarah Howe. As well as accessing a £1,000 cash prize and opportunities provided by our partners, the three winners will be supported by poetry mentors Mona Arshi, Isobel Dixon and Martha Sprackland, alongside pastoral coaches Deborah Alma, Dzifa Benson and Rachel Long. 

About the Speakers

Moniza Alvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and came to England when she was a few months old. She grew up in Hertfordshire and studied at the universities of York and London. Peacock Luggage, a book of poems by Moniza Alvi and Peter Daniels, was published as a result of the two poets jointly winning the Poetry Business Prize in 1991. Since then, Moniza Alvi has written eight poetry collections including The Country at My Shoulder (1993), which was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Whitbread Poetry Award,  A Bowl of Warm Air (1996), one of the Independent on Sunday’s Books of the Year; Carrying My Wife (2000), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; Europa(2008), a Poetry Book Society Choice and shortlisted for the TS Eliot prize and At the Time of Partition (2013) a Poetry Book Society Choice, shortlisted for the 2013 TS Eliot Prize and won the East Anglian Writers Prize for poetry. Moniza’s latest collection is Blackbird, Bye Bye and will be published on the 21st June 2018. Moniza Alvi now tutors for the Poetry School and lives in Norfolk. In 2002 she received a Cholmondeley Award for her poetry.

Mona Arshi is a poet and a lawyer who lives in West London. Mona Arshi was born to Punjabi Sikh parents in West London and grew up in Hounslow. After initially training as a Lawyer, she began writing poetry in 2008 and attended a number of short writing courses. She then began a masters in Creative Writing (Poetry strand) at the University of East Anglia in 2010. Mona’s poetry has been published widely in magazines including Poetry Review, Magma, Rialto and the Sunday Times. She has read her poems at many venues in London including the Troubadour, the London Review of Books as well as the Southbank. She has also performed at festivals in the UK including Ledbury and Bridlington. Her début collection of poem ‘Small Hands’ was published by Liverpool University in the Spring of 2015. Small Hands won the Forward Prize for best first collection in 2015.

Rachel Long is a poet and the founder of Octavia – Poetry Collective for Womxn of Colour, which is housed at Southbank Centre, London. She was shortlisted for Young Poet for Laureate for London in 2014 and awarded a Jerwood/Arvon Foundation mentorship in 2015. Rachel has run poetry workshops for The Poetry School, The Serpentine Galleries and at University of Oxford.  She is Assistant Tutor to Jacob Sam La-Rose on the Barbican Young Poets programme 2015-present.

Martha Sprackland is a writer and editor. She was co-founder and poetry editor of Cake magazine, was assistant poetry editor for Faber & Faber, and is one of the founding editors of multilingual arts magazine La Errante. She is co-editor, with Patrick Davidson Roberts, of independent publisher Offord Road Books. Twice a winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, she was also the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, and was longlisted for the inaugural Jerwood–Compton Poetry Fellowships in 2017. In 2015 Martha was invited to participate in the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation poetry festival in Sofia and Koprivshtitsa, Bulgaria. In 2017 she spent a month in residence at Yaddo. Martha is poet-in-residence for Caught by the River. Her debut pamphlet, Glass As Broken Glass, was published by Rack Press in January 2017, and she is currently working on a full-length collection. A non-fiction book on sharks is forthcoming with Little Toller Books in 2019.