The Brotherton Poetry Prize Anthology II by Lucy Dixcart, Lauren Pope, Helen Kay, Kim Deyn and Isabella Mead
“The moral high ground is a fine place to be, but only when built on firm linguistic foundations.” Simon Armitage.
The Brotherton Poetry Prize is presented by the University of Leeds Poetry Centre. The 2022 Prize was awarded to five authors this year: Lucy Dixcart, Lauren Pope, Helen Kay, Kim Deyn and Isabella Mead.
Thejudges this year were Malika Booker, Stella Butler, Zaffar Kunial and John Whale, plus the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, whose Introduction to the poetry our header quote is pulled from. I received this book as an unsuccessful entrant, but will state without issue that my work was nowhere near the standard of this quintet.
Lessons from the Text
It is an important part of every poet’s journey to fail in contest. Once you’ve picked yourself up and licked your wounds, it’s also not a bad idea to read the work that won. Teaching yourself how to write more comfortably whilst reading the work of other poets is a workshop skill we have all undertaken at some point in our lives. Once you learn to start reading between the lines, there’s an awful lot we learn about ourselves, too.
The five women poets who won this prize have produced quite outstanding work here, without exception. Lucy’s photographic and razor sharp with form. Lauren’s work is multi-faceted and constantly shifting. Helen writes of the past as an accessible present. Kym’s mysticism is apparent in every stanza. Isabella is a step away from imagination’s takeover, grounded in reality. All of them fit effortlessly together as a quintet of modern poetic writing.
This is, undoubtedly, the book I will learn most from this month in terms of my own output. The key to accessible poetry is not just a distinctive voice, but words that allow the reader in, let them settle with you and then proceed to challenge their reality. Every poet in this Anthology does that job with such subtle grace that is the reminder there is always space to change, constant room to grow as a creative.
Will you read it again? It already has Post-It notes inserted for reference purposes. Oh yes.
Would you recommend it for me to read? Very much so, and when finances allow I’ll be getting the 2021 Anthology as a complement.