Entrants will submit selection of work to be judged by award-winning poet Don Paterson, with advance and publication the prize
Picador is launching a new poetry prize that hopes to find the best previously unpublished poets in the UK, to be judged by the award-winning poet Don Paterson.
The idea for the Picador poetry prize came out of a conversation between Paterson and the Forward prize-winning poet John Stammers. “We were talking about why there wasn’t any equivalent in the UK to the Yale Series of Younger Poets which has been running in the US for about 90 years,” said Paterson, who was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry this year. “If you look at the list of past winners, it’s a roll call of the major US poets of the mid-20th century. John suggested we look into setting up a non-ageist version of the same thing, and this is what we’ve come up with.”
The prize will be awarded for a selection of a poet’s work, rather than a single poem. Picador will offer the winner a “small-but-perfectly-formed” advance and publication, with their work edited by Paterson, the publisher’s poetry editor. Picador is home to poets including Carol Ann Duffy, Glyn Maxwell, the late Peter Porter and Robin Robertson.”Prizes are great, of course, but what new poets want more than anything else is simply publication. That’s our prize, and we’re certainly planning to make a fuss over the winner, and find as many readers as we can for their book,” said Paterson. “Talent always rises – real talent in poetry is such a rare thing that as soon as it’s discovered, everyone’s shouting about it to everyone else. But you have to make sure the grapevine’s working: we want to provide every opportunity for new talent to make itself known.”
He will be joined on the judging panel by Stammers, the Scottish poet, playwright and novelist Jackie Kay, and Sarah Crown, editor of guardian.co.uk/books. “It will be interesting working with a committee; after a while, you worry – or should worry – about your own blind spots as an editor, and this is one way of compensating for that, making sure I’m not missing out on anything great,” said Paterson.
The prize is open to submissions from now until September, with a shortlist of eight to 10 poets to be announced in October and the winner in December.