2023 Disabled Poets Prize Winners Announced


Founded by Jerwood Poetry Fellow Jamie Hale, in collaboration with Spread the Word, Verve Poetry Press and Festival, and CRIPtic Arts, the winners of the 2023 Disabled Poets Prize Best Single Poem and Best Unpublished Pamphlet were announced on Saturday 18 March at the 2023 Deptford Literature Festival. 

The Prize looks to find the best work created by UK based deaf and disabled poets, in written English and in British Sign Language. Deaf and disabled poets face significant barriers to developing their careers. The Prize brings the work of the winning writers to new prominence, focusing attention on the exceptional work being produced by deaf and disabled writers. It is the first poetry prize in the UK specifically for deaf and disabled poets. The judges for the 2023 Prize were Peter Reynard, Romalyn Ante and Jamie Hale. 

Jamie Hale, Prize Founder and Judge, says, Through founding and judging the Disabled Poets Prize, we are highlighting some of the most exciting work being produced today by deaf and disabled writers, across both individual poems and pamphlets. Judging the work was both a considerable challenge and an absolute joy, due to the range, breadth, and quality of work.I hope this Prize will bring the worthy winners, shortlisted, and longlisted poets to the attention of wider opportunities, and support them in further developing their careers.”

The winner of the Best Single Poem is Jamie Field for How to Sign Playground. He is awarded £500, an online Writers’ Surgery session with The Literary Consultancy and an online residential and masterclass by the Arvon Foundation. The poem draws together written English and BSL in a vivid and embodied poem, rich with languages and imagery. Jamie Field is a Poetry Ireland Introductions recipient 2021, has a MA in Poetry from Queen’s University, Belfast and poems published in Banshee, Abridged and Magma amongst others.

Jamie Field, winner, 2023 Disabled Poets Prize Best Single Poem, says, “As a deaf person who struggles to communicate, I feel I can only truly express myself through poetry, and to have the validation from a Prize bridging both worlds means so much.”

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word, says, “With over 150 poems being submitted to the Best Single Poem category, it has been a real privilege to read the work being created by deaf and disabled poets from across the UK. We are delighted to be able to celebrate and support the development of the winning, shortlisted and longlisted poets, helping them to build their careers and get their work out to readers and audiences.” 

The second placed Best Single Poem is Lea Elm for Paper Houses, awarded £250, and third placed, Katharine Goda for A is for Anger, awarded £100. The highly commended poets, Jennifer Brough, Ruth Yates and Moira Garland are each awarded £50. They will also receive development opportunities from Spread the Word, CRIPtic Arts and The Literary Consultancy.     

The winner of the Best Unpublished Pamphlet is Katherine Moss for her collection ‘The Still Point’. 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.

Katherine Moss, winner, 2023 Disabled Poets Prize Best Unpublished Pamphlet, says, “Poetry can be exhilarating, feel unsettling, can place demands upon us to stop and reflect upon words and sounds.  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.” 

Stuart Bartholomew, Co-founder and Director of Verve Poetry Press and Festival, says: “It is a real pleasure and a privilege 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.”

The second placed unpublished pamphlet is A Diet of Leeches by Rebecca Ferrier, awarded £250, and third placed is Remapping by Justina Hart, 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. 

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.

You can view the 2023 Disabled Poets Prize Awards event here (captioned and BSL interpreted): https://www.youtube.com/live/WcUZ-z4opzM?feature=share

Donations can be made to the 2024 Disabled Poets Prize here: https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/appeal/disabledpoetsprize