Jay Bernard has won the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry for their performance piece Surge, Side A which looks at the 1981 New Cross fire in which 13 black British young people died. The panel of judges was impressed by “the honesty, the vulnerability and the fact it was so intensely personal”.
The £5,000 prize is given to the poet “who has made the most exciting contribution to poetry”, putting published collections alongside live performance, installations and radio pieces. The hour-long solo performance, which was given at the Roundhouse in north London as part of the 2017 Last Word festival, combined archive footage with film, audio and live poetry written in the voices of those killed in the blaze.
Congratulations to Jay and everyone shortlisted! You can find poems from each shortlisted work, and an video excerpt of Jay Bernard’s performance of Surge: Side A on The Poetry Society website.