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First Brotherton Poetry prize winner announced

Simon Armitage awards Dane Holt the inaugural Brotherton Poetry Prize, presented by the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.

Simon Armitage has performed one of his first official duties since becoming Poet Laureate, announcing the winner of the University of Leeds’ new poetry prize.

The winning poet was Dane Holt, originally from Chesterfield in Derbyshire and now a PhD researcher at Queen’s University Belfast.

The prize, launched last year, aims to nurture previously unpublished poets. The runners-up were Sheffield-based Pete Green; Maeve Henry, from Oxford; Majella Kelly from Tuam in Ireland; and Robyn Maree Pickens, from Dunedin in New Zealand.

The choice was unanimous among the judges, who selected the winners from over 400 entries to the competition.

Professor Armitage said: “The fact that there were so many outstanding submissions to this new poetry prize confirms to me that the art form is healthy and vibrant, with no let-up in the number of people wanting to take language seriously and work with it in a considered and thought-provoking way. Our very strong shortlist could have been many times longer.”

Librarian Dr Stella Butler added: “We hope the prize encourages the next generation of poets to draw inspiration from the Library’s wonderful literary archives and other special collections. Libraries are about creativity and excellence, and the prize has produced both!”

The prize was judged by Poet Laureate and Professor of Poetry Simon Armitage; writer, broadcaster and former chancellor Melvyn Bragg and poets and University cultural fellows Vahni Capildeo (winner of a Forward Prize in 2016) and Malika Booker (inaugural Poet in Residence at the Royal Shakespeare Company). Poetry Centre Director Professor John Whale and University Librarian Stella Butler completed the judging panel.

The prize was open to anyone over 18 who hadn’t yet published a full collection of poems. The winner receives £1,000 and the opportunity to develop their creative practice with the Poetry Centre. The four runners-up each receive £200.

The poems of the five shortlisted poets will be published as an anthology by respected publisher Carcanet Press, and all five will be invited to take part in a series of readings and events at the University of Leeds and other Yorkshire venues.

The prize has been generously supported by the Charles Brotherton Trust. Brotherton’s Uncle, Lord Edward Brotherton of Wakefield, was a Yorkshire industrialist and philanthropist who funded our iconic Brotherton Library building and donated his private library of rare books and manuscripts to the University to form the basis of the Brotherton Collection.

Read more about the poets and the judges' reaction