Winning the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award from Poets & Writers

I am beyond delighted to be able to announce, at last, that I am the poetry winner of the 2017 Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award. (I’ve known the news for a month now, and a long month it has been, trying to keep quiet about it). The Writers Exchange Award is a Poets and Writers contest that gives two writers from a chosen state the chance to spend a week in New York City, meeting top writers, agents, editors, and publishers, in order to help them advance their careers. This year the chosen state was Maine, so I entered the poetry part; and whaddyaknow, somehow I won. The poetry judge, Cynthia Cruz, said about my poems: “These are poems that tell the truth. Brave and beautiful, they show the world as it is—in its incredible and breathtaking entirety,” which was very kind of her. You can read the press release here, and my winning poems here.

So in October I will be spending a week in the Big Apple with Joan Dempsey, the fiction winner, meeting poets and editors galore and remembering how to survive and thrive in a big city (it’s a long time since I lived in London!). Obviously I am very excited and looking forward to it hugely.

I want to say a huge thank you to my MFA teachers at UNH, Charlie Simic, Mekeel McBride and David Rivard, who helped me hone the skills I needed to write the poems in my submission. While it’s totally unfair to pick out just one of them, I’d like to say thanks particularly to Charlie: first for saving 6 of the 10 pages of my submission from going in the trash can; and secondly for his wise guidance during the process of making my MFA thesis, from which the winning poems are all drawn.

One last thing: who should I ask to meet in NYC? Soon I have to submit my wish-list to P&W, and I could use some suggestions—I still don’t know the US literary scene as well as I knew the British one. So if you have an idea for someone in New York whom it could be fun/useful/essential for a poet in search of a first collection to meet, please get in touch and tell me! I’ll happily listen to all ideas—just put them in the comments or email me. Thanks!

Image from bjaglin on Flikr. Used under Creative Commons licence.