If we were going to decide which poet writing today most embodies the Aryamati Prize theme of writing on social change, peace and protest, then arguably there is no better example than the work of Jenny Mitchell.
Jenny's winning poem, Imagining a Forest Made of Freedom, will be published in postcard form (see what this looks like below!), podcast form (with a big thanks to Manchester Metropolitan University) and later featured on the Fly on the Wall YouTube channel, so lots of opportunities to hear more about Jenny, and hear her work in spoken form, as well as written.
This winning poem has urgency and strength and a plosive explosion of words. Ultimately, there is a sense of growth, hope, and a search for justice for the 'blood unjustly spilt' by slave labour.
Meet the Poet:
Jenny Mitchell writes about the legacies of British transatlantic enslavement, especially in relation to personal/family dynamics. Her debut collection Her Lost Language (Indigo Dreams Publishing) is joint winner of the Geoff Stevens Memorial Poetry Prize; one of 44 Poetry Books for 2019 (Poetry Wales); and a Jhalak Prize #bookwelove Recommendation.
She is also winner of the Segora Poetry Prize, a Bread and Roses Poetry Award, the Fosseway Poetry Prize and a 2 x Best of the Net Nominee.
Her work has been widely published and broadcast on BBC2 and Radio 4.
Imagining a Forest Made of Freedom
They’re bubbling, black roots reforming
pushing at the soil. Bones misshapen
with slave labour, straighten and grow strong
ripping through the ground.
Fractures caused by beatings fuse, shape young trees
swelling to enormous trunks, fed with blood unjustly spilt.
Welts, deep-planted by a whip, design a hardy bark.
Starvation in reverse makes fertile leaves
wave, carefree at last.
Imagining a Forest Made of Freedom by Jenny Mitchell won the 2020 Aryamati Prize and is in her 2021 collection Map of a Plantation (Indigo Dreams Publishing).
We hope you have enjoyed Jenny's winning poem and encourage you to check out more of her work!
You can find out more about the Aryamati Prize here.