THE HUME PRIZE WINNERS 2019-2020

Todd Swift | 23 February, 2021


          
            THE HUME PRIZE WINNERS 2019-2020

We at BSPG combined the Hume prize into a biannual event over the past two years, and in the process, our distinguished judge, writer, poet, and journalist, Christopher Jackson, selected two winners from an impressive list - and they will share equally the 2000 pound advance and publishing deals with Eyewear/ Black Spring Press for 2021-2022. The selections are - as to be expected for a prize that has attracted superb poets since its inception over nine years ago - delightfully rich with various-voiced talents and we as publishers welcome the winners with socially-distanced elbows at the ready!

So, here they are!

WHYT PUGH

is the 2018 winner of the AmeriCymru Poetry Prize and 2011 recipient of the Terry Hetherington Young Writers’ Award - their poetry and short stories have been published in Sand Hills Literary Review, Genre: Urban Arts, West Trade Review, Still: The Journal, six Chevalanthologies published by Parthian, Opening Chapter’s Secondary Character and Other Stories, The Seventh Quarry, and the New Welsh Review’s online platform. Whyt holds a PhD in Literature from the University of South Wales where they taught Literary Theory and Romanticism until 2015. 

Winner's Statement:

'In the writing of The Light of Stars Long Ceased to Be, I set out to examine separation, longing, and the fracturing of identities. With the hope that this collection might offer some resonance to those facing such crises, I am so very grateful for the opportunity to share the book through the Melita Hume Prize and Eyewear/Black Spring Press.'

 

 

CHRISTIAN WETHERED

is a poet and songwriter based in Dublin. He was selected for the ‘Poetry Ireland Introductions Series’ in 2017, and has since featured in Poetry Ireland, The Moth, and Ink, Sweat and Tears. In 2018 he published his pamphlet I Don't Love You (Eyewear), and was anthologised in Writing Home (Dedalus) and Best of New British and Irish Poets. In 2019 his poem 'M1' was used for David Fox's acclaimed exhibition 'An Altered Land' at the Olivier Cornet Gallery, Dublin. He was runner up in the 'Café Writers' and the 'Aesthetica Creative Works competitions', and in 2020 was awarded a Development Fund by UCD and funding from Arts Council Ireland. As a songwriter he has collaborated with Loah, Trinity Orchestra and the Discovery Gospel Choir; his songs have featured on RTE1, RTE Arts, Midlands 103 and Today FM. His debut album, Mon Petit Jardin, is due in 2021.

Winner's Statement:

'I'm so happy! Thanks so much to the judges and The Black Spring Press Group. It's an honour to join such a great list alongside some of my favourite writers and musicians.'

CHRISTOPHER JACKSON

was educated at Charterhouse School, the University of Nottingham, and the College of Law. Qualifying first as a solicitor, he subsequently worked for many years as a journalist with work appearing in The Times, Country Life, The New Statesman, Mail on Sunday, City AM and numerous trade publications. His books include The Fragile Democracy (2016), Roger Federer (2017), Theresa May (2018) and several poetry collections. He appears regularly on television and radio outlets including Sky, Bloomberg, BBC Radio 4, and LBCdiscussing politics and literature.

JUDGE'S CITATION:

I greatly enjoyed judging the Melita Hume Prize. Each entry was a reminder, amid the strain of lockdown, of the vibrancy of voice, and the certainty that poetry has its role to play in our shared way forward. After finding many voices who I am sure we will hear more from in the coming years, I found I couldn't separate Christian Wethered's Nada and Whyt Pugh's The Light of Stars Long Ceased to Be.

 

In Wethered's collection, each poem is a tight form - a little like the jewellery box in the collection's opening poem 'Present' - with its grooves and wheels, and which when you close it gives 'the tiniest thud'. Wethered gives us condensed poems with surprising character insights such as this from the poem 'Anon': 'I was too impressed to notice/she was running away.' It is a collection readers will relish, and then return to, and which will leave you 'inarticulate,/as though you hold a mirror.'

 

Pugh's poetic world meanwhile is a place where human insight is linked irrevocably to far-off galaxies - it is a book which attempts to come to terms with the enormity of the universe by creating a large inner imaginative space. It does so by sourcing in confident language the 'inconsolable ebb' of the universe - as if something true has been fetched from the other side of the universe, and found expression here. Their book is a realisation that patterns out there may have some relevance here where we face our political reckonings (in a 'Rotten Nationalist America') and our injustices, or 'theMachiavellian misogynistic masochism', as Pugh calls it. In spite of its large temporal and spatial ambitions it is also a book for our time.

 

I couldn't separate them. I read them, and reread them. Then I took the plunge - the prize would be shared, and both books given the futures they deserve.

 

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