Sep 22, 2014

'Self-Portrait with The Happiness' shortlisted for the 2014 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

We are delighted to announce that smith|doorstop poet David Tait's Self-Portrait with The Happiness is one of the five shortlisted collections for the 2014 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize.


The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, established in 1989 was the first major award designed to recofnise and benefit a poet at first book stage. It is one f the UK's oldest, most influential prizes for contemporary poetry.


The judging panel for 2014 comprises Robert Seatter (Chair), Imtiaz Dharker, and Anthony Wilson. 


The winner of the 2014 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize will be announced on Friday 7th November.


More details about the other shortlisted entrants and the 2014 can be found below:


The Poetry Trust is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2014 Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize – one of the most influential and established prizes in the UK for a first book of poems. From 53 entries, the shortlist highlights five distinctive new voices as ‘ones-to-watch’ amongst the next generation of UK poets:


Bright Travellers                                            Fiona Benson                         (Cape Poetry)

Moontide                                                       Niall Campbell                        (Bloodaxe Books)

My Family and Other Superheroes              Jonathan Edwards                  (Seren Books)

Division Street                                              Helen Mort                              (Chatto & Windus)

Self-Portrait with the Happiness                   David Tait                               (Smith/Doorstop Books)


The three poet/judges were unanimous about the outstanding quality of entries and the difficulty of narrowing down to just five titles. Imtiaz Dharker said: “Every day of the final week saw a change of mind or a new favourite. Sometimes a single poem would demand to have its author put on a shortlist. Then there was the feeling that we were comparing things that really could not be compared.” Robert Seatter (Chair) said: “What surfaced the winners in the end were the seeming opposites of freshness and consistency, making for a first collection of genuine coherence.” Anthony Wilson said: “At times I felt as though I was at the races, watching previously unspotted runners surging through the field with unstoppable force. 'Look at me!' they shouted. Transfixed, I could not take my eyes off them.”


Two books – Bright Travellers by Fiona Benson and Moontide by Niall Campbell – also appear on the Forward Best First Collection shortlist of six titles, but in Aldeburgh’s 25 year history only once has a poet scooped both prizes (Robin Robertson in 1997). Helen Mort already has a productive connection with The Poetry Trust and Aldeburgh: in 2009, she was one of eight selected for The Trust’s hotly-contested Advanced Seminar for poets nearing first collection publication; and in 2011 she was part of the New Talent reading at Aldeburgh Poetry Festival.


Now in its third year of funding by The Fenton Arts Trust, the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize is valuable not simply as a cash prize – £2,500 – but especially for its emphasis on developing talent. Uniquely, the winner also receives a week of ‘protected’ writing time on the inspirational Suffolk coast and – most significantly – an invitation to read at the subsequent Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, thereby reaching the UK’s largest and most dedicated contemporary poetry audience. No other poetry prize offers such sustained investment and support and Fenton has recently confirmed it will support the Prize for a further three years (2015, 2016 and 2017).


This year’s winner will be announced at the start of the 26th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 7 November 2014. More details are available at


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