Poetry Shelf noticeboard: Robyn Maree Pickens in Brotherton Poetry Prize Competition (UK)




From Robyn Maree Pickens:

I was in Finland for a writing residency over January and February and stayed on in the Northern Hemisphere for the launch of the University of Leeds Brotherton Poetry Prize Anthology (published by Carcanet), which was meant to take place on the 23rd March at the University of Leeds Poetry Centre — and to be launched by UK poet laureate Simon Armitage (who was one of the competition judges). Understandably the launch was postponed, but only nine days beforehand. The new, tentative launch date is in the (UK) autumn, but it is unlikely that I will be able to attend this event (or who knows what the world will be like in a few weeks let alone a few months…). I had a very stressful but lucky return to NZ on 21st March and am now in self-isolation at an unfamiliar location, but that is another story…!

Five anthologised finalists in alphabetical order: Pete Green, Maeve Henry, Dane Holt (winner), Majella Kelly, Robyn Maree Pickens.

Judges: Simon Armitage, Malika Booker, Melvyn Bragg, Stella Butler, Vahni Capildeo and John Whale.

I have eight poems in the anthology.

This is an excerpt from Simon Armitage’s introduction:

“Robyn Maree Pickens writes a flexing and flowing poetry, unpredictable and daring at times, one that can shape-shift from a bold and abrupt comparison (‘a sea-urchin that looks like a vagina’) or a reference to Grindr, to something far more elusive and elliptical, as in the opening lines of The time has come for you to lip sync where she observes:

Here you are – pulling another foal out of the Ice Age
as the moon files its tongue down to a shimmer.

The poems are mesmerising and memorable, trippy but never blurred or vague.” (p x





The award ceremony was on the 10th of June 2019 at the University of Leeds Poetry Centre with all of the judges and poets in attendance (I happened to be in Dublin for a conference last year just beforehand so was able to attend the event).

In the attached photo (from the award ceremony) I am fourth from the left.

Here is some general information about the prize prior to the announcement of the winners:

The Brotherton Poetry Prize is open to anyone in the world over the age of 18 who hasn’t yet published a full collection of poems (a chapbook or pamphlet does not count as a full collection). Entries to the competition should include no more than 200 lines of poetry in up to five individual poems.

The winner will receive £1,000 and the opportunity to develop their creative practice with the University of Leeds Poetry Centre.

Four runners-up will each receive £200.

The poems of the five shortlisted poets will be published as an anthology by Carcanet Press. All entrants who provide a UK postal address will receive a copy of the anthology on publication. The shortlisted poets will be invited to take part in a series of readings and events held at the University of Leeds and in other venues in Yorkshire.

All shortlisted poets will receive travel expenses up to £150 to cover expenses associated with the competition announcement. Expenses for UK-based poets associated with events may be reimbursed.

The Brotherton Poetry Prize is generously supported by the Charles Brotherton Trust.


Here is the announcement about the competition winners:

Selected from almost 400 entries, the winner of the Brotherton Poetry Prize was announced at an event last night, after all five shortlisted poets read one of their five submitted poems.

Mr Holt, 26, originally from Chesterfield in Derbyshire, said he was looking forward to working with Leeds’ Professor of Poetry.

“Simon Armitage was the first poet I ever read,” he added.

The prize, launched last year, aims to nurture previously unpublished poets. The runners-up were Sheffield-based Pete Green; Maeve Henry, from Oxford; Majella Kelly from Tuam in Ireland; and Robyn Maree Pickens, from Dunedin in New Zealand.

The choice was unanimous among the judges – writer and broadcaster Melvyn Bragg; poets and Douglas Caster Cultural Fellows Vahni Capildeo and Malika Booker; University Librarian Dr Stella Butler; University of Leeds Poetry Centre Director Professor John Whale, and Professor Armitage.

All of the finalists and judges were present to see the winner named.



Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s