Judges announced for Disabled Poets Prize


Set up by Jerwood Fellow Jamie Hale, Disabled Poets Prize is a collaboration between Spread the Word, Verve Poetry Press, Verve Poetry Festival, and CRIPtic Arts. This Prize looks to find the best work created by UK based deaf and disabled poets, in written English and in British Sign Language. We are pleased to announce that the full judging panel is: Jamie Hale (judging best single poem and best unpublished pamphlet), Romalyn Ante (judging best single poem), Peter Raynard (judging best unpublished pamphlet), Sahera Khan and DL Williams (judging best poem performed in BSL) 

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.

For the 2023 Prize, deaf and disabled poets are able to submit to three categories – best single poem, best unpublished pamphlet, and best poem performed in British Sign Language. Alongside cash prizes, The Prize offers significant professional development opportunities, including a publication deal with Verve Poetry Press for the best unpublished pamphlet as well as development prizes from Spread the Word, CRIPtic Arts, The Literary Consultancy and Arvon Foundation.

About the Judges

Jamie Hale, a white person with red hair and beard looks directly towards the camera with a confident smile. They sit in their electric wheelchair in front of vivid red/orange photographers banner, wearing black jeans, a ribbed black turtleneck and a silver floral blazer. A shock of bright pink and orange eyeshadow brings out their green eyes.Jamie Hale – judge for best single poem and best unpublished pamphlet

Jamie is an award-winning theatre maker, poet, (screen)writer, charity CEO and founder and Artistic Director at CRIPticArts. They focus creatively on crip- and queer- realities, and the urgency of living as a disabled person.

Their poetry pamphlet, Shield was published in 2021, and read by Jack Thorne in the 2021 MacTaggart lecture, calling them as an “extraordinary voice”. Their solo poetry film, NOT DYING, was described as “fantastic” by Hannah Gadsby.

In 2021, they were awarded the Jerwood Poetry Fellowship, and won Director/Theatremaker of the Year Award for NOT DYING  in the Evening Standard Future Theatre Fund Awards.

Jamie founded CRIPtic x Spread the Word online retreat for deaf and disabled writers in 2020, and ran it in 2021. They have been published in magazines including Magma and the Rialto, guest-edited the Bodies issue of Modern Poetry in Translation, and are working on their first full poetry collection.

Website: https://jamiehale.co.uk/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamierhale 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamierhale/ 

This is a black and white photo of DL Williams performing poetry in SSE (Signed Supported English, where BSL follows the spoken English pattern). The photo shows her upper body, with DL looking directly at the camera and her hands and arms are slightly blurred with movement. DL is a white person with androgynous presentation, their short dark hair has been swept away from her face and in a slightly scruffy way. They wear glasses with black rectangular rims and a hearing-aid with an ear-mould is just visible in their right ear. She is wearing a stage mic or as they like to think of it, a ‘rock star’ mic, with a microphone positioned near their mouth and wires visible near their left ear and around their neck. They are wearing a hoody with a zip that appears dark grey in this photo (it’s actually purple) that is fully zipped up. Her facial expression is pained exasperation and her hands are in front of their body and although blurred by movement, are still recognisably in a ‘pointed forefingers’ handshape.DL Williams – judge for best poem performed in BSL 

DL Williams is a poet working with British Sign Language and English. They have performed BSL poetry around the UK and internationally, in the USA and Brazil. She’s keenly interested in issues surrounding translation, having experimented with translating her own poems and performing in both languages at the same time.

DL says: 

“I’m delighted to be part of this project and really excited to see all the wonderful poems that I know are out there. I want to encourage any and all to send in their poems; language is beautiful whether it’s written or signed and can have so much meaning. Poetry has helped me explore the world and express myself. What is it that you want to convey?”

Sahera has light brown skin, a round face, round black glasses, black headscarf, and a black dress with a gold pattern. She is smiling slightly. The background is blurred green, gold and white decorations.Sahera Khan – judge for best poem performed in BSL 

Sahera Khan is Muslim Deaf BSL user. She is a writer/creator, artist/actor, filmmaker and YouTuber.

Sahera says: It is an honour to take part in the Disabled Poets Prize as a judge for D/deaf poets. This will be the first time I have experienced this and it will be amazing to work with DL Williams. I hope to see more D/deaf poets sending in their unique poems, either in writing or BSL video. I am really looking forward to reading and watching their poems.”

Judge Sahera Khan’s BSL video 

Romalyn Ante – judge for best single poem 

Romalyn Ante is a Filipino-British, Wolverhampton-based poet, essayist, and editor. She is co-founding editor of harana poetry, a magazine for poets who write in English as a second or parallel language. Her debut collection is Antiemetic for Homesickness (Chatto & Windus). She was recently awarded the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship ‘21-‘22.

Romalyn says: “Disabled people are often the most marginalised group in society, facing disadvantages not only in psychosocial and economic aspects but also in our cultural domain. Disabled Poets Prize is necessary to help develop and honour our fellow poets and illuminate their talents and potential in the British landscape.”

Peter Raynard – judge for unpublished pamphlet 

The photograph shows a middle-aged white man wearing a white shirt. He has glasses, is bald and has a short greying beard. (The image is by Naomi Woddis).

Peter Raynard is a disabled working class poet. He edited Proletarian Poetry for five years (www.proletarianpoetry.com), featuring over 150 poets. His poetry books are Precarious, (Smokestack Books), The Combination: a poetic coupling of the Communist Manifesto, (Culture Matters), both in 2018, and Manland (Nine Arches Press) in July 2022. Instagram @peterraynard. Image of Peter by Naomi Woddis.

Peter says: “The Disabled Poets Prize is a rare opportunity for deaf and disabled poets to get their work published with supporting organisations.”


Entries are open until 1pm, Monday 31 October 2022 for best single poem and best unpublished pamphlet categories. Best poem performed in BSL category is open for entries until 1pm, Monday 7 November 2022. Please visit: www.disabledpoetsprize.org.uk 

The Prize is free to enter, and donations are welcome to support the future of the Prize. 

Published 4 October 2022

Updated 24 October 2022