Women Poets’ Prize 2020: Shortlist

The Rebecca Swift Foundation is excited to reveal the nine poets shortlisted for the Women Poets’ Prize 2020.

After carefully working through a longlist of thirty poets, Women Poets’ Prize 2020 judges Malika Booker, Pascale Petit and Liz Berry met early last week to make final selections for the Prize.

In what marks the last stage of selections – from a total submission count of 734 applications – the three Judges praised the ambition and tenderness of the work received, emphasising the ‘capable hands’ the Prize illustrates poetry to be in.

As with 2018’s inaugural Prize – won by Nina Mingya Powles, Claire Collison and Anita Pati – three poets from the shortlist will access a rich programme of support and mentoring via Women Poets’ Prize partners The Literary Consultancy, Faber & Faber, Bath Spa, City Lit, Poetry School, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, and Verve Poetry Festival, alongside a monetary award of £1,500.

“The poems were ambitious, experimental and groundbreaking in terms of formal, thematic, rhythmic, lyrical, narrative consideration. It is heart-lifting to know that women are making such thrilling, ambitious, tender work and that the world of poetry is moving forwards in exciting ways and in such capable hands. An exciting selection of poems.”

Malika Booker, Pascale petit and Liz Berry, Women poets’ Prize 2020 Judges

The Women Poets’ Prize 2020 Shortlist:

Alisha Dietzman was raised in the American South and Central Europe. She lives in Dundee, where she is a PhD candidate in Divinity at the University of St Andrews, supported by a grant from the US-UK Fulbright Commission. Her poetry has appeared in Ploughshares, Pleiades, Pain, and elsewhere.

Olivia Douglass is a British-Nigerian poet whose writing envisages Black queer experiences outside of colonial frameworks. A Barbican Young Poets Alumna, Olivia has been commissioned by National Poetry Library and was Artist in Residence at Theatre Peckham. Olivia’s pamphlet, Slow Tongue, was published in 2018. She is currently working towards her debut collection.

A native of the US, Eve Ellis lives in London. She won the Winchester Poetry Prize in 2016 and was short-listed for the Nine Arches Primers scheme in 2019. Her poems have also appeared in Magma and Bare Fiction. She recently completed an MA in Creative Writing and Education at Goldsmiths.

Cecilia Knapp is is the current Young People’s Laureate for London. Poems have appeared in The White Review, Magma and Bath magazines. She was featured in British Vogue as a young writer to watch. She was shortlisted for the 2020 Outspoken poetry prize. Her debut novel is forthcoming with The Borough Press (Harper Collins.) @ceciliaknapp Instagram/Twitter www.ceciliaknapp.com

Natalie Linh Bolderston is a Vietnamese-Chinese-British poet. She was a runner-up in the 2019 BBC Proms Poetry Competition, came third in the 2019 National Poetry Competition, and received an Eric Gregory Award in 2020. Her pamphlet, The Protection of Ghosts, is published with V. Press.

Bryony Littlefair is a poet, community centre worker and workshop facilitator living in London. Her pamphlet Giraffe won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize in 2017 and is out now with Seren Books. She was shortlisted for the inaugural Rebecca Swift Foundation Women Poets’ Prize in 2018. bryonylittlefair.wordpress.com

Laura Potts is a writer from West Yorkshire. A recipient of the Foyle Young Poets Award, her work has been published by Aesthetica, The Moth and The Poetry Business. Laura received a commendation from The Poetry Society in 2018 and was shortlisted for The Edward Thomas Fellowship in 2020.

Yvette Siegert is a Latinx poet and CantoMundo Poetry Fellow currently reading for a D.Phil in Spanish American literature at Merton College, Oxford. She received the Lord Alfred Douglas Prize, and her translations of Alejandra Pizarnik, Extracting the Stone of Madness: Poems 1962–1972, won the Best Translated Book Award.

Warda Yassin is a British born Somali poet and secondary school teacher based in Sheffield. She was a winner of the 2018 New Poets Prize for her debut pamphlet Tea with Cardamom (Poetry Business, published 2019). From October 2020, she will be taking on the role of Sheffield Poet Laureate.

Look out for a showcase of work from each of the nine poets throughout next week on the @FoundationSwift Twitter page.


Women Poets’ Prize: Winner Announcements

The three final Women Poets’ Prize winners will be announced in a free live online event in mid-November, supported by our Prize partner Poetry School. Details of the date and tickets for the event will follow shortly.


The Rebecca Swift Foundation would like to thank each of our Prize partners for their ongoing support and collaboration. We also thank our donors, whose incredible support keeps the Women Poets’ Prize running and free to enter. To make a donation, please click here.