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Michael Marks Awards 2017 winners announced | 13-Dec-17

The winners of the Michael Marks Awards for Poetry Pamphlets 2017 have been announced.

Poetry Award Winner

I Refuse to Turn into a Hatstand, by Charlotte Wetton. Calder Valley Press

Judges' comments: "UK poetry has been immeasurably enriched by the wonderful growth of pamphlet publication and all five shortlisted poets would have been a worthy winner. Each very individual pamphlet contains poems that are resonant, daring, poignant, beautiful and important. In the end, we chose Charlotte Wetton's I Refuse to Turn into a Hatstand, published by Calder Valley Poetry, a very small very new press which started business two years ago. We chose it for its assured craft, its emotional and imaginative conviction across a really wide range of forms and tones, and for its lovely language - fresh, direct, powerful and elegant, all at once. The poems are poised and brief but each feels like a small miracle. Indelible images of restraint, powerlessness and loss dominate, but it's not all grim: Wetton writes with wit, too. She is particularly adept at observing the refrigerated stillness of office life, the draw of the exotic, and how, even in sex, genuine connection is fraught and far from guaranteed. "

Publishers' Award Winner

The Poetry Business

Judges' comments: "A significant proportion of the pamphlets submitted to the Awards this year were published by The Poetry Business; as should perhaps be expected of such an established publisher with over 30 years in the game. Yet to have two that breezed onto our shortlist is remarkable - Phoebe Stuckes' moving and punkish debut Gin & Tonic, and Theophilus Kwek's well-wrought and imaginative pamphlet The First Five Storms.

There were many other pamphlets that impressed us - Mark Pajak's Spitting Distance provided arguably the most memorable account of a day's work experience ever enshrined in poetry (a day spent in a battery farm, in which the speaker, aged miserable teenager, is tasked with bagging the dead chickens). Other strong entries were Stephen Knight's fun pamphlet A Swansea Love Song, difficult but totally unforgettable, written in an idiom of the poet's own creation intended to capture the Swansea accent. Christy Ducker's Messenger, the ugliest pamphlet of all time, contained beautiful poems about loss, arising from her time as a poet attached to York's centre for immunology and infection.

The publisher isn't just churning out exciting pamphlets, it's also consolidating its role as a major support network for poets young, old, inexperienced, published and unpublished from all over the country. We're excited by its plans to establish an imprint for children and look forward to seeing how it builds its stellar work to bring poetry to more people online, via energetic blogging, audio downloads, live Q&As and so on."


Illustration Award Winner

Rose Ferraby for The Tender Map by Melanie Challenger. Guillemot Press

Judge's comments: "The Illustration Award looks not just from striking images but for images that seem to have an intrinsic relationship with the poems. Rose Ferraby, winner of this year's prize, is an archaeologist as well as an artist, and this seems to be reflected in many of her images. Her bold semi-abstract drawings arise from and interact with the metaphors in the poems in Melanie Challenger's The Tender Map in a highly original way."

Read more about the awards and those shortlisted here

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