John Whale (Director): Brotherton Poetry Prize Launches

The announcement of our new Brotherton Poetry Prize – a prize focused on the identification and nurturing of new talent – is an exciting moment for the Centre. In the last two weeks or so we’ve celebrated the life and work of Ken Smith – who would have been eighty this year – and we’ve marked the centenary of Isaac Rosenberg, a poet and artist who died on the Western Front in 1918. Both poets have strong connections with the University of Leeds. Both deserve to be better known. Smith was a student here and returned as a Northern Arts Fellow. We have his archive in Special Collections. Rosenberg was championed by the University as long ago as 1959 in an exhibition supported by two of our associated poets, Jon Silkin and Geoffrey Hill. These two events exemplify the Centre’s continued commitment to celebrating our rich heritage. And early last week we also hosted on campus the prize-giving of the 2018 Peace Poetry Competition, an opportunity to work with schools across the Leeds city region. This was the fourth year of our involvement and the topic was food inequality. It was, as usual, particularly moving to see how the primary and secondary school pupils had risen to the creative challenge. Our new Brotherton Poetry Prize takes this other side of our purpose – looking to the future by supporting new writers – to a completely new level. We look forward to sharing our creative environment with the winners and to having them make their own unique contribution to poetry at Leeds.