2024 Disabled Poets Prize winners announced


Disabled Poets Prize winners announced at Deptford Literature Festival

The Disabled Poets Prize, looks to find the best work created by UK based deaf and disabled poets, in written English and in British Sign Language. The 2024 winners of the Prize were announced on Saturday 16 March at an event broadcast as part of the Deptford Literature Festival programme.

Best Unpublished Pamphlet

Best Unpublished Pamphlet 2024 was awarded to Susie Wilson for Nowhere Near As Safe As A Snake In Bed. Second place goes to Anna Starkey for All These Frequencies, and third place to Amber Horne for So She Spoke. Exit Amours by Ozge Gozturk, Learning in Nine Keys by Norman Miller and Scar Tissue by Danne Jobin were all highly commended by the judges.

Susie Wilson said:

“Thank you so much to Pascale Petit and Jamie Hale for selecting my sequence of melanoma poems to win the unpublished pamphlet prize. It is fantastic to know that they will get their day in the sun. Living as I do with Stage 4 melanoma, ‘getting published’ was my single bucket item and I’m delighted that I’m gonna need a bigger bucket. Thank you also to the team at Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield, who take such brilliant care of me, so that I’m still here and able to write, however hard things are. Thank you to my wife, family, friends and poetry friends for their endless support and critique. Congratulations to all the listed poets.

As an auDHD poet, it’s brilliant to be able to represent the complexity of what we are capable of (in my case perhaps often left-field/surreal image links and sound/language patterning characteristic of my auDHD) whilst at the same time having the helping hand which this prize brings to get to market and develop further. The Disabled Poet Prize last year made me realise that it’s no good waiting to feel better, or be ok, or get on top of things. It made me see that it’s possible to get on with writing with hope and verve. I hope to see what we can do to keep spreading the word about this brilliant prize over the next year.

Otherwise, watch this space for more related work about the mouse/sun/poetry god Apollo and the nature of time… including in animation and drawn form.”

Best Single Poem

The award for Best Single Poem 2024 goes to Gayathiri Kamalakanthan for Eating An Orange. In second place is Rachel Burns and her poem Blue Monday. Third place goes to Alex Mepham for Dark Matter. Could this be how to love by Elizabeth Gibson, Ward 9 by Vera Yuen, and A Horse Walks into a Bar – After Tyrone Lewis by Dee Dickens were all highly commended by the judges.

Gayathiri Kamalakanthan said:

“It’s meaningful that this Prize exists – it makes me feel like I’m a writer, even when writing is painful and slow. I can’t type for very long so I often record myself speaking bits and pieces that could become poems. This poem thinks about the admin and scheduling of grief, which for me mirrors some of the admin and scheduling around long term physical pain.”

The prize for first place is £500, second place wins £250, and third place wins £100. The highly commended entries will each be awarded £50. The Prize offers significant professional development opportunities for the winning writers, including a publication deal with Verve Poetry Press for the best unpublished pamphlet, as well as development prizes from The Literary Consultancy and Arvon Foundation.

Best Poem Performed in BSL

Sahera Khan’s poem My Eyes was highly commended by the judges in the category Best Poem Performed in BSL.

Sahera Kahn said:

“That is amazing news. I honour my BSL poem My Eyes selected for special commendation. I feel this poem is important to me in expressing my deafness to share the world to understand how I grew up. I look forward to working with CRIPtic Arts and Spread the Word to develop my poem My Eyes and perform.”

Sahera will receive £300 as well as a one-to-one with an editor at The Literary Consultancy and a free membership to their Being a Writer community platform. She also receives an online masterclass by Arvon, and an online professional development session with CRIPtic Arts and Spread the Word.

Watch the Awards Announcement

About the Prize

The 2024 Disabled Poets Prize was judged by Pascale Petit, Stephen Lightbown, Kabir Kapoor – the British Deaf Association’s UK BSL Poet Laureate – and Jamie Hale.

Deaf and disabled poets face significant barriers to developing their careers. The Disabled Poets 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 Disabled Poets Prize is a collaboration between CRIPtic Arts, Spread the Word and Verve Poetry Press. The Prize 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.

Barbara Hayes, Chief Executive, ALCS (Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society), said:

“At ALCS, we know that writers provide invaluable contributions to society. Writers help us make sense of the world, and it’s vitally important that authors reflect the diverse range of life experiences found in society. That’s why we’re proud to support the Disabled Poets Prize 2024 and the platform it provides to emerging deaf and disabled poets across the country. A huge congratulations to the shortlisted writers and winners.”

Stuart Bartholomew, Verve Poetry Press, said:

“We at VERVE Poetry are thrilled to continue to be involved with this vitally important poetry prize – the only one of its kind in the UK. The quality of the entrants has been wonderfully high, and we are over the moon to be publishing the winning pamphlet, Nowhere Near As A Snake in Bed by Susie Wilson. We look forward to the continued success of the Disabled Poets Prize.”

Ruth Harrison, Director, Spread the Word, said:

“It remains critical that spaces are created and sustained to profile and celebrate the fantastic work being made by deaf and disabled poets across the UK. We are delighted to be supporting 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 Disabled Poets Prize was founded in 2023 by Jamie Hale in collaboration with Spread the Word, Verve Poetry Press, and CRIPtic Arts. The 2024 Prize is funded by the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) and supported by The Literary Consultancy and Arvon Foundation.

The 2025 Disabled Poets Prize, sponsored by ALCS, will open for entries later this year