Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Arts Council England select three creatively ambitious poets for new £45,000 poetry Fellowships

The inaugural Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships, which reward creatively ambitious and generous poets with three bursaries totalling £45,000, have been awarded to Raymond Antrobus, Jane Commane and Jackie Hagan.

Born in Hackney, East London, British Jamaican page and spoken word poet Raymond Antrobus explores deafness, diaspora and language (oral, written and sign) which fuses with his practice as a teacher of performance and creative writing.

A collaboration between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Arts Council England, the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships offer a significant new professional development opportunity for poets, made possible through a bequest from Mr Joseph Compton in 1964.

The year-long Fellowships invest in the process and practice of making poetry, rewarding individuals who are making, or are capable of making, a significant contribution to a community of poetry. A distinctive part of the Fellowships is that they provide an open space for poetic practice, with no expectation of published work or performed events as a result of the award.

Over the Fellowship year, the poets will also have access to mentors and critical friends to help realise their vision, as they develop and enhance their practice. The initiative will award three bursaries biennially for three editions between 2017 and 2022.

Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Arts Council England worked with 250 nominators nationally, including poets, publishers, editors, literary development agencies, artists, funders and festival organisers. Their nominations led to 190 applications, resulting in a culturally and professionally diverse longlist of 65 poets from which a shortlist of eight was selected for interview.

The selection panel included writer, critic and academic David Dabydeen, poets Kate Fox and Mimi Khalvati, Gemma Seltzer, Relationship Manager (Literature), Arts Council England and Shonagh Manson, Director, Jerwood Charitable Foundation.

The successful Fellows were selected from a strong field of nominees who reflect the growing depth and breadth of poetry activity across the country, from grassroots to academic level, with a persistent theme of entrepreneurship, and a growing trend of hybrid styles which intersect with a variety of art forms.

Raymond Antrobus said: “Poetry in the UK needs more Fellowships like this. It not only takes the talent of the poet seriously, but poetry itself. This opportunity has come to me at an exciting time: when people are realising how broad the category of poetry is and its value. More importantly, this Fellowship has won me time. I have been scraping by for the last 10 years and I haven’t had the privilege to prioritise my own work. The Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship is the first grant I have won which allows me to prioritise my craft as a poet, rather than as a teacher or community leader. I hope being one of the first recipients of the Fellowships gives me the opportunity to trail blaze.”

The Fellowships start in August 2017.


Find out more about the Jerwood Charitable Foundation here.