Due to the introduction of a fourth category this year (Best Single Poem – Performed), we are introducing two separate judging panels this year – one to judge all collections submitted, and one to judge all best single poems submitted. Read on to find out about our two exceptional judging panels.

Best Collections Panel

L-R: Bernardine Evaristo, Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés Ordorica, Jessica Traynor
L-R: Bernardine Evaristo, Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés Ordorica, Jessica Traynor

Bernardine Evaristo will be this year’s Chair of Judges for our Best Collections panel. She will be joined by Kate Fox, Karen McCarthy Woolf, Andrés Ordorica and Jessica Traynor.

Bernardine Evaristo won the Booker Prize 2019 with her eighth book, Girl, Woman, Other (Penguin, 2019), the first black woman and black British person to win it. Her latest publication and tenth book is a memoir, Manifesto: On Never Giving Up (Penguin, 2021). Her writing spans fiction, poetry, non-fiction, literary criticism and drama. She has founded several successful arts inclusion projects since 1982, latterly literature projects, and she is currently the literature mentor for the Rolex Mentor & Protégé Arts Initiative (2022-2024). The recipient of many honours, including two recent British Book Awards, and she was named ‘Person of the Year’ by the UK Bookseller magazine in 2021. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London, an Honorary Fellow of St. Anne’s College, University of Oxford; an International Honorary Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and President of the Royal Society of Literature.

Kate Fox is a stand-up poet, writer and broadcaster regular on Radio 4 and Radio 3’s The Verb. She has been Poet in Residence for Glastonbury Festival and the Great North Run, completed a PhD in Northernness and performance from the University of Leeds in 2018, published Where There’s Muck There’s Bras, stories of Northern women (Harper North, 2022), and writes and performs about Northernness, neurodiversity, class and humour and facilitates the writing and performing of people from marginalised groups. She won New Writing North’s Andrew Waterhouse Prize in 2006 and has published collections with Nine arches Press (The Oscillations, 2021), Burning Eye Books (Chronotopia, 2017) and Smokestack (Fox Populi, 2013).

Born in London to English and Jamaican parents, Karen McCarthy Woolf is the author of two poetry collections and the editor of six literary anthologies. Her début An Aviary of Small Birds was shortlisted for the Forward Felix Dennis and Jerwood Prizes and was an Observer Book of the Year. Her latest, Seasonal Disturbances, explores gentrification, the city and the sacred, and was a winner in the inaugural Laurel Prize for ecological poetry. In 2019 she was awarded a Fulbright postdoctoral scholarship as the Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA where she explored the relationship between poetry and law. Published everywhere from Granta and the Financial Times and The Guardian her poetry has been translated into Turkish, Swedish, Italian, Dutch and Spanish.

Andrés N. Ordorica is a queer Latinx writer based in Edinburgh. His writing maps the journey of his diasporic experience and unpacks what it means to be from ni de aquí, ni de allá. He has been published widely including The Guardian, The Acentos Review, The Skinny, Gutter, Poetry Unbound and Bella Caledonia. His writing has been shortlisted for The Saltire Society’s Poetry Book of The Year, the Morley Prize for Unpublished Writers of Colour and the Mo Siewcharran Prize. He is the author of the poetry collection At Least This I Know (404 Ink, 2022).

Jessica Traynor is a poet, essayist and librettist, and poetry editor at Banshee. Her debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the Strong/Shine Award. The Quick (Dedalus Press, 2018) was an Irish Times poetry book of the year. Pit Lullabies (Bloodaxe, 2022) is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Awards include the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize, the Listowel Poetry Prize, and Hennessy New Writer of the Year. Residencies include Carlow College, the Yeats Society Sligo, the Seamus Heaney Home Place and dlr LexIcon. She is a Creative Fellow of UCD.

Best Single Poems Panel

L-R: Joelle Taylor, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Caroline Bird, Chris Redmond, Sue Roberts
L-R: Joelle Taylor, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Caroline Bird, Chris Redmond, Sue Roberts

Joelle Taylor will be this year’s Chair of Judges for our Best Single Poems panel. She will be joined by Khadijah Ibrahiim, Caroline Bird, Chris Redmond and Sue Roberts.

Joelle Taylor is the author of four collections of poetry. Her most recent collection C+NTO & Othered Poems won the 2021 T.S Eliot Prize and was the subject of a Radio 4 arts documentaryButch. C+NTO was nominated for the Rathbone Folio Prize, longlisted for the Ondaatje Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Polari Book Prize. It was named by The Telegraph, the New Statesman, The White Review & Times Literary Supplement as one of the best poetry books of the year, as well as DIVA magazine’s Book of the Month, and awarded 5 stars by the Morning Star. She has recently completed a book tour of Australia including Sydney Opera House (March 2022). C+NTO is currently being adapted for theatre with a view to touring. A former UK SLAM Champion she founded the national youth poetry slams SLAMbassadors through the Poetry Society in 2001, remaining its Artistic Director until 2018. She is a co-curator and host of Out-Spoken Live, resident at the Southbank Centre, and an editor at Out-Spoken Press. She is also completing her memoirs for publication in 2024, as well as a novel of interconnecting stories The Night Alphabet. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and the 2022 Saboteur Spoken Word Artist of the Year.

World traveller, theatre maker, live artist, and poet, Khadijah Ibrahiim is the Artistic Director of Leeds Young Authors and the Producer of Leeds Youth poetry Slam Festival. She has two poetry collections Rootz Runnin and Another Crossing(Peepal Tree). Hailed as one of Yorkshire’s ‘most prolific’ poets by BBC Radio, she continues to make various stage appearances across Britain, the USA, the Caribbean and Africa. She has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship and the Sue Rider ‘Yorkshire Woman of the Year’. Khadijah is part of Collections in Verse, Poet in the City and the British Library commission that spurs poets to create new work inspired by British Library exhibitions and local histories, stories and experiences.

​​Caroline Bird is a poet and playwright. Her sixth collection, The Air Year, won the Forward Prize for Best Collection 2020 and was shortlisted for the Polari Prize and the Costa Prize. Her fifth collection, In These Days of Prohibition, was shortlisted for the 2017 TS Eliot Prize and the Ted Hughes Award. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2002 and was shortlisted for the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize in 2001 and the Dylan Thomas Prize in 2008 and 2010. She was one of the five official poets at the 2012 London Olympics. As a playwright, Bird has been shortlisted for the George Devine Award and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize. Her Selected Poems, Rookie, was published in May 2022.

Chris Redmond has performed in 20 countries on five continents. His poetry and music has featured on BBC Radio 1, 2, 4, 6Music, CBBC, The Guardian and The Independent. He is the founder of Tongue Fu - the UK’s leading spoken word, music and improv show, collaborating with hundreds of artists globally. Chris is also co-director of Hot Poets - an award winning international project exploring the intersection of climate science, poetry and hope, with partners including the UNFCCC, Southbank and UCL. Chris has taught writing and performance for the British Council, St Mary’s University, BAC, First Story and the BBC.

Susan Roberts is the Head of Culture Arts and Music programmes for BBC Audio North which includes Radio 3’s flagship poetry strand The Verb. She has directed over 200 Radio Dramas winning many awards for this work, including a Sony Gold and an Amnesty International. She has directed for the theatre including at The Royal Exchange and The Southbank and for film, including two poetic films The Killing of Sophie Lancaster which won an RTS award for Best Drama and Men who sleep in Cars. She has published several anthologies of poetry.

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