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Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics

Following the success of its inaugural year-long programme, Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics, a mentoring programme to encourage diversity in poetry reviewing culture, returns for a second iteration and is now open to applications from new and emerging critical voices.

In the past decade, publishing and mentorship schemes targeting BAME poets and writers, new profile-raising festivals and readings, national prize winners and judging panels, as well as crucial cultural debates around race, gender and ethnicity, have dramatically improved the diversity of British poetry. However, reviewing culture has not accurately reflected this important shift towards a more inclusive poetry community of readers and writers. As recent statistics show, reviewers and poets of colour are hugely underrepresented in broadsheet and journal publications, with just 4.9% reviewers and 8.6% poets from BAME backgrounds.

In late 2017, Ledbury Poetry Festival, along with poets Sandeep Parmar and Sarah Howe, launched a year-long intensive mentorship scheme for 8 emerging BAME poetry reviewers: Dzifa Benson, Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell, Mary Jean Chan, Jade Cuttle, Sarala Estruch, Maryam Hessavi, Nasser Hussain and Jennifer Lee-Tsai. Working with collaborating partner publications, during the scheme these 8 critics have published reviews in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The New Statesman, the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, Poetry London and many other magazines and journals.

In 2019, Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics intends to add another 4 emerging BAME poetry critics to its existing cohort of reviewers, offering them a place on its intensive mentorship programme that focuses specifically on redressing the imbalance in UK poetry culture. The 4 new mentees will be announced in May at a live event discussing race and reviewing in 2019, alongside the publication of updated statistics on The State of Poetry Criticism.

This programme offers an intensive mentoring and support for 4 emerging BAME poetry critics that will focus specifically on redressing the imbalance in UK poetry culture.

Over the course of the Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics scheme, you will be assigned a poetry critic mentor with experience reviewing for national journals, magazines (print and online) and broadsheet newspapers. You may already be an emerging critic with a few published reviews, have some or no critical or academic background, or you might be strongly committed to becoming a poetry critic in the very near future and keen to explore issues of diversity in British poetry.

The scheme begins with a two-day poetry reviewing workshop in London (end of June, date to be confirmed). This will be followed by one-to-one mentorship and critical feedback on the writing of a poetry review before November 2019 (to be conducted either virtually or in-person). These reviews will be shared with the editors of our collaborating partner publications, which include The Guardian, Poetry Review, Poetry London, Mslexia, Poetry Wales, Magma, The White Review, Sabotage, Prac Crit and others.  

To apply send (in hardcopy or a PDF via email) a covering letter expressing your interest and any experience in poetry reviewing. Please give details of why you feel you would benefit from participating in Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics. Also, send a brief sample review of a recent poetry collection, pamphlet or live poetry performance (by any contemporary poet) of up to 800 words. This review may be published or unpublished.

Deadline for applications: Monday 1 April 2019

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