THE MELITA HUME POETRY PRIZE 2017 SHORTLIST
This year’s shortlist of 12 eligible poets is likely more diverse than ever in the prize’s six-year history. Past winners have been chosen by leading UK poets, such as Tim Dooley, Emily Berry, and Mark Ford – and last year’s co-winner, Maria Apichella, was a Forward-nominee this year for Psalmody. The £1,500 prize is open to any young poet with a debut collection, 35 years or under at time of entry, who either is resident in the UK or Ireland, or a citizen of either place. This allows for a very open field.
This year’s judge Vahni Capildeo, a prize-winning leading poet, will have her work cut out for her. There are poets from across the UK, Ireland and Northern Ireland, as well as two poets hailing from South Africa. Showcasing the internationalism of poetry in these isles, some of the shortlisted poets live at least part-time in Mumbai, Barcelona and Hong Kong. And all styles and forms of poetry are represented, from avant-garde, to mainstream, to spoken word and performance.
The 12 debut poets are:
Alex Howard is 29 and lives in Scotland. Alex attended the University of Edinburgh where he graduated with a first in English Literature. Since then, he has gone on to publish poetry and prose widely earning several prizes and awards. His debut novel Library Cat won the Beryl Bainbridge Best First Time Author Award (2017) and has been translated into Italian and Korean, while his poetry has earned him a place as a quarterfinalist in the Scottish Slam Championships, a reading slot at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, and the Red Cross International Writing Prize. He is currently completing an AHRC funded PhD at the University of Edinburgh where he teaches.
Caitlin Stobie was born in 1993 in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. She is currently reading for her PhD at the University of Leeds and is co-editor of EPIZOOTICS! - and her poems and short stories have been published internationally in journals including Poetry & Audience, Zoomorphic, Flash, The Stockholm Review of Literature, The Kalahari Review, and New Contrast. In 2016 an earlier version of her unpublished debut collection was shortlisted for the RædLeaf International Poetry Award.
Carina Hart was born in Norfolk in 1987. She studied English Literature at Cambridge, York and UEA, where she completed her PhD in 2012. She has published poetry in InPrint, The Cadaverine and The Apple Anthology, and was also shortlisted for the Melita Hume Poetry Prize in 2013. In 2017 she has been highly commended in the Aurora Competition for short fiction, and is shortlisted for the Overton Poetry Prize. Carina works as a lecturer in English Literature at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, and lives in Nottingham and Malaysia.
Christian Wethered was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and the University of Bristol. He has been published both in Ireland and the UK. His work has featured in the anthologies In the Cinnamon Corners 2017 and the Aesthetica Creative Works Anthology. He was third-placed in the 2016 Café Writers Competition (judged by Andrew McMillan), and recently selected for the 2017 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. He lives in Dublin.
Eloise Stevens was born in London, in 1988, and is currently based between Mumbai and London. She holds a degree in French and Portuguese literature from Oxford University. She has performed at The Cuckoo Club, Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, in Mumbai, the Edinburgh Fringe, the Poetry Café, London, and is a Farrago slam champion. She is currently working on a performance of her collection, The Beat of Beast, which was shortlisted for The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective prize.
Geraldine O’Kane poet, creative writing facilitator, arts administrator and mental health advocate, was born September 19th, 1981 and was brought up in the village of Ardboe on the shores of Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland. She attended St. Joseph's Grammar School Donaghmore, and went on to study English and History at the University of Ulster. She currently lives and works in Belfast. Geraldine is one half of Poetry NI. In October 2015 she gave a TED Talk for TEDx Belfast on poetry and mental health and read at the Poems Upstairs Series in association with Poetry Ireland Feb’ 2016. She is a recipient of the Artist Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) 2015/16 grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
Jacqueline Thompson is from Arbroath on the East Coast of Scotland. She has an MLitt in Creative Writing from The University of Dundee and a PhD from The University of Edinburgh. Her poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, Gutter, Poetry Ireland Review and The Scotsman. She has been shortlisted for the Grierson Verse Prize, the Westport Arts Festival Poetry Prize and the Jane Martin Poetry Prize, and she won the Neil Gunn Writing Competition in 2017. She currently works as a writer in Edinburgh.
Jason Eng Hun Lee is a poet of mixed British and Chinese ancestry. He has been published in Envoi, Acumen, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his first collection Beds in the East was a finalist for the Hong Kong University Prize (2010). He is an occasional guest editor/judge/reviewer for Cha: An Asian Literary Journal and regular contributor to the Hong Kong literary scene. He has a PhD in English Literature and currently lectures at Hong Kong Baptist University.
Mariah Whelan was born in Oxford in 1986. She studied English at Queen’s University, Belfast before completing an MSt in Creative Writing at Oxford University. She has lived in Japan and Spain and is currently based in the Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester where she was awarded a scholarship to write poems and research trauma in contemporary Irish fiction. She was awarded a distinction for her master’s thesis, a novel-in-sonnets titled City of Rivers, which won the AM Heath Prize and individual poems were shortlisted for The Bridport Prize.
Rebecca Close was born in London and is an artist, researcher, poet and translator based between London and Barcelona. She studied Philosophy at Manchester University and has a Master’s Degree in Spanish Philology. Her forthcoming new media publication Reinscriptions, co-produced with Anyely Marín, won the Miquel Casablancas Prize for Visual Arts (2017). Her poems have appeared recently in datableedzine, Ambit, Magma and Lemony Lemons.
Rhiannon Williams was born in Islington in 1992. She grew up in London and subsequently in Cyprus, where she lived for eight years before returning to the UK and studying for a BA in English Literature at the University of Exeter. She has had poetry featured on The Island Review, and is currently studying for an MA in Narrative Environments at Central Saint Martins in London.
Thembe Mvula is a twenty-three-year-old poet and spoken word performer born in Grahamstown, South Africa. She has lived in the UK, in Gloucester, for almost fourteen years and is currently based in London, where she works part time in community engagement whilst being a freelance poet. Thembe graduated with a BA in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the University of Kent in 2016. Writing from the age 12, Thembe had her first poem published in a Young Writers Anthology at age 15. Since then, she has mainly shared her poetry on the stage, featuring across platforms such as The Roundhouse, Jawdance and TEDx.