The Aryamati Poetry Prize is now in its third year of running and, following two years of seeking single poems that explore themes of social change and peace, this year we decided to look for a pamphlet's worth of content that delved deep into these pivotal and important themes.
Since the prize was established in memory of Olga Kenyon (Aryamati), we've been lucky to receive bountiful entries of quality work that resonate with the prize's founding mission. This year was no exception!
Receiving just shy of 100 entries this year, the judges enjoyed reading through all of the insight that writers chose to impart through their poetry. As such, it has proven to be an extremely competitive year and it was tough to narrow down the entries to a shortlist.
Saying that, though, we are excited to announce the eight shortlisted poets and their pamphlets for the 2021 Aryamati Poetry Prize, listed in no particular order...
1. Ladybird, Ladybird, by Wurlitza
The judges enjoyed this open-hearted pamphlet as it offered an interesting dynamic between the different perspectives of a collective effort to help Syrian refugees through charitable causes led by community groups. The poems also detailed the lives and journeys of selected migrants, which proved to be thought-provoking and emotive throughout.
2. Horizons, by Christian Yeo
In particular, what we loved about this pamphlet was Yeo's craft and startling language. Thematically, the exploration of capitalism within Singapore and experiences of mental health during the unique experience of migrants in this country proved to be powerful and captivating.
3. Untitled, by Sundra Lawrence
Though the pamphlet is untitled, the content of Lawrence's work proved to be detailed and moving. These poems exploring civil war in Sri Lanka are incredibly brave and necessary, shining a spotlight on the resilience of the locals - as well as the lingering, multigenerational effects that the brutality of war leaves on people long after they have left their home.
4. Shouting in the Tunnel, by Ruth Aylett
This was a well-crafted pamphlet that explored many themes with brevity. In particular, the judges enjoyed the poem 'British Museum: Neolithic Burial' which gave, with great effectiveness, a voice for the bodies whose burial rights were not respected.
5. Untitled, by Edel Burke
This untitled pamphlet by Burke utilised the universality of nature imagery in order to create a vivid sense of time passing throughout, leading to a persistent juxtaposition between the concepts of salvaging and renewal. Burke's unique writing style and great craft made this a captivating read.
6. Songs for Ibba, by Matt Bryden
A pamphlet that is inspired by Bryden's real experiences with the local education, Songs For Ibba is an accomplished set of poems that present a clear understanding of the South Sudan education system for girls. Despite being undeniably harrowing at times, this pamphlet also proves uplifting with its subtle notes of hope woven throughout.
7. The Unravelling, by Lucy Hurst
The judges especially enjoyed Hurst's wry and sardonic voice in this series of poems that explored pain and chronic illness in an experimental and unique manner. Engaging and humourful, yet utterly stark with some of its content, this pamphlet was an eye-opener regarding the reality of living with the unyielding symptoms of the unwell body.
8. Sister, by Jenny Mitchell
Mitchell's pamphlet, Sister, is a brave and unflinching display of domestic abuse and abuse of power, told primarily through the narrative of a young girl and her sister. Each poem is written with clarity and linguistic dexterity, resulting in an afflicting read from the first line until the final.
The winner and runners-up of the 2021 Aryamati Poetry Prize will be announced on Wednesday 27th October.
Massive congratulations to all our shortlisted poets. We really appreciated the chance to read everyone's work, and encourage all entrants to stay in touch with the prize as it evolves - we have some exciting plans!
More about the prize here
With thanks to Arts Council England for funding Fly on the Wall Press in 2021.