Eyewear Publishing is thrilled to announce the results of the Melita Hume Poetry Prize for this year (the prize has been running since 2012). This prestigious international prize recognises the best debut poetry collection from poets aged 35 and under from the UK and Ireland.
Winner Jessica Mayhew’s entry Longship earns her £2,000 and a publishing deal with Eyewear and runner up Ellen Viola is awarded £200 for her collection, The Eel, plus an Eyewear publishing contract.
Competition judge and award-winning poet Colette Sensier says, ‘I was lucky enough to discover many bright new voices on the Melita Hume shortlist – notably, Ellen Viola – but Longship was notable for its creation of what feels like a living, interconnected world. The manuscript blurs myth and modern life, moving between ventriloquism of the gods of the Norse myths, and the griefs of present-day bereavement, love and – portrayed in fabulous language on the brink between surrealist metaphor and natural wonder - climate apocalypse. I felt I was in the presence of a strong and determined voice, as Mayhew’s powerful control of language called back to Norse forms with firm alliterative lines and bold images. Many poems feel like communications between our modern selves and deeper, older impulses and ways of living in nature – ways which in Mayhew’s hands feel accessible and shockingly real. I look forward to seeing Longship, and hopefully many other Mayhew volumes, in print.’
WINNER: JESSICA MAYHEW’S LONGSHIP
‘When we were little’, explains Jessica about the inspiration behind her prize-winning entry, ‘my Gran used to tell us to remember that we were Vikings. She came from the Shetland Isles, and told us stories about islands of rock with no trees, the North Sea which drowned the sailors in our family, the old Gods. When she died, my uncle commended her to Valhalla, and her gravestone was carved with a longship. Longship is a collection about family histories, the natural world and how we weave our memories through it. Inspired by the way that Robin Robertson tells myth through his collections, entwined with his own experiences, I wanted to capture moments in Norse mythology that would speak to our own experiences of life. Njord and Skadhi's ill-fated marriage, how Freyja got her necklace, what Odin whispers to the body of his son - these are all stories of imperfect - very human - beings who still fascinate me’.
About the writer: After graduating from UCL with a Masters in 2013, Jessica Mayhew spent a year working in south-east Asia, and during this time wrote a pamphlet, Amok, which was published by Eyewear, London in 2015. Her poetry, fiction and essays have been published in magazines including Ambit, Stand, Staple, Brittle Star, Magma, and the Interdisciplinary Literary Studies Journal. She has also given readings at the Nottingham and Ledbury Poetry Festivals. Jessica currently lives in Hertfordshire with her street dog, Bracken. Her Instagram page is @jessmayhew_writer
RUNNER-UP: ELLEN VIOLA’S THE EEL
The Eel is the story of a woman, a mother, a child, and an other. It is told in fragments of text that slip through water. Everything is in flux. We are left to question who exists and who does not; what is a dream and what is not; what is possession and what is loss.
About the writer: Ellen Viola was born in London in 1986. She has a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design from Camberwell College of Art, and a Foundation Degree in Circus Arts from the National Centre for Circus Arts. She is currently studying printmaking at Hampstead School of Art. Her drawings and prints can be found on Instagram @voilaellen