Best Unpublished Pamphlet 2023

It is a real pleasure and a privilege to be involved in supporting the inaugural Disabled Poets Prize, and to be publishing the winning pamphlet as part of VERVE Poetry Press’s autumn season. The quality of the entries has been wonderful to behold. This feels like such a vital and important prize, providing a platform to raise up disabled voices in poetry in a way that still isn’t happening in the wider book industry.

Stuart Bartholomew, Co-founder and Director of Verve Poetry Press and Festival

The winner of the Best Unpublished Pamphlet, judged by Jamie Hale and Peter Raynard, is Katherine Moss for her collection ‘The Still Point’.

Poetry can be exhilarating, feel unsettling, can place demands upon us to stop and reflect upon words and sounds. The reader sometimes needs the respite of the blank space that surrounds a poem. They may need to push away the text to give space to think and to grasp meaning. Unlike the novel, poetry will not always carry us safely into escapism. T S Eliot refers to ‘the still point’ in his poem, ‘Burnt Norton.’ I recognise this as an effect upon the poet’s audience, how words can capture the intentional reader. I strive to one day achieve this ‘stillness’ in my writing. As one of the winners of the Disabled Poets Prize I have been given an amazing opportunity to discover my voice as a poet and perhaps feel authentic in claiming to be a writer.

Katharine Moss, Winner, Best Unpublished Pamphlet

She is awarded £500, publication by Verve Poetry Press, an online Writers’ Surgery session with The Literary Consultancy and masterclass by the Arvon Foundation. ‘The Still Point’ explores the intersection of truth and mythology within family history with a particular interest in the Irish Diaspora, examining Katherine’s own life as a disabled woman and mother, drawing on nature to weave the personal and political. She is a graduate of The Manchester Writing School and was awarded the Dr Lee Kai Hung Postgraduate Bursary. Her work has been published in Consilience and produced by The Garrick Theatre.

Participating in the Disabled Poets Prize gave me the chance to connect with other chronically ill poets and hear stories similar to mine. For me, poetry is protest. It is a chance to be heard in a society that deems ‘vulnerable’ people as not worth listening to. I am so thankful to the judges and organisers for their work, for their advocacy and for shining a light in increasingly dark times. That light will only get brighter with further opportunities such as this.

Rebecca Ferrier, Second Place, Best Unpublished Pamphlet

The second placed unpublished pamphlet is A Diet of Leeches by Rebecca Ferrier, awarded £250, and third placed is Remapping by Justine, awarded £100. The highly commended unpublished pamphlets are: type one by Shloka Ramachandran, Twelve Steps Behind by Noemi Gunea and Wander by Katie Simpson, each awarded £50. They will also receive development opportunities from Spread the Word, CRIPtic Arts and The Literary Consultancy.

This news comes at one of the most challenging times in my life and writing career and gives me hope for the future. My own experiences over the last few years suggest how vital this competition is.

Justina Hart, Third Place, Best Unpublished Pamphlet

The other longlisted pamphlets were Keeping Mum by One Inky Queer, Nature is Nurture by Fiona Robertson, Her Knitted Cardigan by Ruth Yates, Iamborn by Karis Williamson, and I Am Not Your Mother by Helen Rice

In its first year, the Prize was made possible by CRIPtic Arts, Spread the Word, Verve Poetry Press and Festival and individual donations from Jamie Hale and Nathalie Teitler. The 2024 Disabled Poets Prize is supported by ALCS, and is actively seeking donations and conversations with people and organisations who are interested in supporting deaf and disabled poets and would like to contribute to the Prize’s growth.