News / melita hume



    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 In 2016 an earlier version of her unpublished debut collection was shortlisted for the RædLeaf International Poetry Award.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 EnvoiAcumen, 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.

  • Jenna Clake’s FORTUNE COOKIE Wins the 2016 Melita Hume Prize for Poetry

    30 November--LONDON

    Eyewear Publishing LTD is pleased to announce that Jenna Clake is the 2016 winner of the £1,500 Melita Hume Prize--the UK's largest monetary prize for a debut collection--for her book Fortune Cookie.

    ‘I am thrilled to have won the Melita Hume Prize, and look forward to releasing my first collection,’ says Clake. ‘This is something I have been working towards for the past few years, and I am incredibly grateful to Eyewear for the opportunity.’

    Clake is studying for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on the feminine and feminist Absurd in twenty-first century British and American poetry. She is also the Poetry and Arts Editor for the Birmingham Journal of Literature and Language. Clarke's work appears in Poems in Which, The Bohemyth, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and more. 

    The final judge, Professor Mark Ford, editor of the American edition of John Ashbery's collected poems and Faber poet, selected Fortune Cookie from this year’s exceptionally strong shortlist of ten. Ford had this to say about the finalists and the winner:

    'All of the ten submitted manuscripts that made it onto the short list for this year’s Melita Hume Poetry Prize contained excellent poems, and I would not be at all surprised if all ten of the poets selected went on to develop original and interesting poetic careers. I was struck by the variety of the idioms put to use by these manuscripts, and by the different conceptions of poetry implicit in their styles and choice of subject matter. It is perhaps a cliché to say that the most distinctive feature of the contemporary poetry scene is its diversity – we don’t live ‘in the age’ of anyone in particular, as the Victorians, say, lived in the age of Tennyson. Therefore a judge of a poetry competition such as this has to tune in to the kind of poetry that is being developed in a given manuscript, and then come to a decision about how successfully the poet is deploying the techniques made available by the mode selected. Personal taste also, inevitably, comes into it: a different judge might well have picked a different winner.

    I was also conscious that the winning manuscript would be published as a book. It is not easy for poets putting together a first collection to get a sense of how a volume should be arranged so as to hold a reader’s interest, and if I had a general tip for these poets it would be to study how, say, Philip Larkin arranged the poems in The Less Deceived and The Whitsun Weddings. A number of the manuscripts submitted seemed to me simply too long, to offer too many poems in the same vein. Certainly poets need to develop a distinctive style, but a collection has to be various and surprising, and to present poetry in a range of different registers.

    After much agonizing I selected Jenna Clake’s collection, aptly entitled Fortune Cookie. I found the poems in this manuscript a delight to read: funny, moving, unpredictable, sure-footed, elegant, lively. They reminded me of the work of the great American poet James Tate, who died a couple of years ago. Many offer deadpan accounts of wacky or off-kilter situations, or present mini-narratives that are almost parables, but not quite. Reading each one was indeed a bit like opening a fortune cookie, and finding a motto inside that was at once intriguing and entertaining, bleak and hilarious. I much look forward to seeing this collection in print.'

    Eyewear will release Fortune Cookie in autumn of 2017. Reviewers who wish to reserve an advance review copy should email the editors at

    The entry period for the 2017 Melita Hume Prize will open in January. The final judge will be Forward-winning poet Vahni Capildeo.