The winners of the 2017/18 New Poets Prize 

Judged by Kayo Chingonyi


Judge's Comments

The manuscripts sent to me were of an incredibly high standard which made choosing between them difficult. In the end I have awarded prizes to those manuscripts which I find to be assured, illustrative of a particular sense of occasion, and with an overwhelming  sense of the author’s literary personality. I also find in these winning manuscripts a space for dialogue from poem to poem as well as a cohesion that means the poems collect to form a satisfying whole. I noted, in reading all of the manuscripts, a range of influences on the style of these poems which might illustrate an opening out, in recent years, of poetry’s boundaries. I’m heartened by this and hope that all of these manuscripts find their audiences in time. I feel confident that, given time, they will. – Kayo Chingonyi



Joe Carrick-Varty is a writer from Oxford. He is currently studying for an MA at the Centre for New Writing. His work has appeared in The Interpreter’s House, Brittle Star, And Other Poems, and CrannógMagazine amongst other places. In January 2018 he was named one of Eyewear’s Best New British and Irish Poets. He recently travelled to Alaska and saw a real grizzly bear.

The syntactical precision here demonstrates a care and attention to the weight and balance of each line that is laudable but when wedded to feeling, as it is here, technical excellence rises above mere flair in to something very special. These are assured and beguiling poems. – Kayo Chingonyi on Joe's collection, 'Somewhere Far' 




Tristram Fane Saunders lives in London with an understanding girlfriend, three cacti and a cat. His poems have appeared in The Dark Horse, The London Magazine, Poetry Ireland Review, The Luxembourg Review and The Interpreter’s House. His last chapbook was Postcards From Sulpicia (Tapsalteerie), a version of Ancient Rome’s only extant female poet.  

It is apt to find the word song nestled in the title of this manuscript which regales us so deftly with its tunes. I am reminded, by reading this, of poetry’s capacity to tell a tale and to sing at the same time and in so doing give us a sense of a word’s arcane resonances; those that show themselves only if we take the time to listen. – Kayo Chingonyi on Tristram’s collection, ‘Woodsong’



Emma Jeremy was born in Bristol and now lives in London where she works as an advocate for a medical charity. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Nine Arches Press and Poetry School scheme, Primers 2, and her work has appeared in Poetry London, Poems in Which and Rising.

The imaginative range displayed here makes for a thrilling reading experience. These poems inhabit what it means to be embodied, never letting the reader off the hook. There is a offbeat sense of humour running through these poems, too, which adds to the unsettling effect. – Kayo Chingonyi on Emma’s collection, ‘Let’s Just Call It What It Is’





Warda Yassin is a Sheffield based Somali poet. She is part of the Hive network and The Writing Squad. Warda writes about family and culture, and the spaces between these worlds. She has performed alongside the likes of Buddy Wakefield, and Jean Binta Breeze. Her work has been anthologised in Introduction X (The Poetry Business), and Verse Matters (Valley Press).

These poems struck me as wonderfully contemporary while gesturing towards something ancient in their frequent recourse to that which is passed down as well as that which we improvise as our own pathways unfold. The poems invoke a world within a world making for a multi-layered perspective on life in the UK at the present moment. – Kayo Chingonyi on Warda’s collection, ‘Tea with Cardamom’




The Judge 


Kayo Chingonyi 

Kayo Chingonyi is a fellow of the Complete Works programme for diversity and quality in British Poetry and the author of two pamphlets, Some Bright Elegance (Salt, 2012) and The Colour of James Brown’s Scream (Akashic, 2016). Kayo has been invited to read from his work around the world and his poems have been translated into Spanish, German, and Swedish. He was awarded the 2012 Geoffrey Dearmer Prize and served as Associate Poet at the Institute of Contemporary Arts from Autumn 2015 to Spring 2016. His first full-length collection, Kumukanda, is published by Chatto & Windus.










The Poetry Business gratefully acknowledges support from Arvon for the 2017/18 New Poets Prize. The first prize winner of the New Poets Prize and a runner up will each be offered a place on an Arvon residential course of their choice in 2019, subject to availability.

Since 1968 Arvon has been offering people time and space to write. It runs an annual programme of residential courses for schools, groups and individuals at three rural writing houses – in Devon, Shropshire and Yorkshire. Arvon’s five day courses cover a wide variety of genres, and include a mix of workshops and individual tutorials, led by professional writers. The courses provide writers with an intensive period of time to write, in a quiet, supportive and creative environment away from the usual day-to-day distractions.  

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