Poetry Archive Welcomes 373 poets from around the World
The Poetry Archive Now! WordView 2020 project launched in March 2020 in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Poetry Archive’s first poetry recording session. For the first time the Archive threw open its doors and invited poets from around the world to submit their work in the form of a home-made video. Before we knew it, the world was forced to close many of its doors and our open call took on a dimension we could never have imagined.
We were truly humbled by the quality and quantity of entries which were submitted. More than 370 poets from 22 countries around the world and we published these to our dedicated YouTube poetry channel, which has already had almost 44000 views.
The judges were then faced with the extraordinary task of choosing just 20 poets and poems to represent this extraordinary year by being compiled into the Poetry Archive Now! WordView 2020 Collection on the main Poetry Archive website, a process which is now complete.
Chair of the Judging Panel, Imtiaz Dharker, says:
“The hundreds of entries we received blew in to the Archive like a breath of pure, unpolluted air from all over the world, revealing something of the time we are living in, some telling it straight, some slant. It was exciting to check in to the Poetry Archive’s Youtube channel every morning and come upon one unexpected voice after another. The shortlists shifted every time the judges (Robert Seatter, Lavinia Singer and I) looked at them. We did wrestle with giving up so many favourites because there were far more than the 20 we had to come down to. Luckily we were able to take consolation in the thought that all the entries, even the ones we couldn’t keep, would stay on Youtube as a record of this year and an indication of the range of voices we heard. They are brave voices, often dealing with difficult subjects. With the video format, it was good to see the poets in their environment (and I especially admired the determined poet who battled to the end of her piece with a baby squealing for attention in the background). Some had a wonderful delivery and could have been given prizes for performance, but in the end we came back to the poems on the page, the use of language and powerful images, to make the final list. With these 20 outstanding winners, it feels as if doors and windows have been thrown open to voices that will enrich the Poetry Archive and the conversation between poets that continues across time.”
Tracey Guiry, Director of the Poetry Archive says:
“The Poetry Archive has always been a trusted source of audio and visual recordings of poetry but there are always so many more poet’s voices we want to collect. This initiative has a truly global poetic perspective of the times we are living through and we are delighted to welcome more than 370 poets to the Archive collections. We will hold an open call each year for poets to be included in the Archive, continuing to build a uniquely rich and diverse poetry collection reflecting and celebrating the zeitgeist of each year – which audiences now and in the future can be inspired by.”
The Poetry Archive Now! WordView 2020 Judges
Imtiaz Dharker is a poet, artist, and video film-maker. She was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014 and has received a Cholmondeley Award and an Honorary Doctorate from SOAS. Imtiaz is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and became the Chancellor of Newcastle University in 2020.
Her collections include ‘Purdah’ (Oxford University Press), ‘Postcards from god’, I speak for the devil’ and ‘The terrorist at my table’ (all published by Penguin India and Bloodaxe Books UK) and ‘Leaving Fingerprints’, ‘Over the Moon’ and ‘Luck is the Hook’ (Bloodaxe Books UK).
Her poems are on the British GCSE and A Level English syllabus, and she reads with other poets at Poetry Live! events all over the country to more than 25,000 students a year.
Imtiaz has been Poet in Residence at Cambridge University Library and worked on a series of poems based on the Archives of St Paul’s Cathedral as well as projects across art forms in Leeds, Newcastle and Hull.
The inaugural Poet of the Fair at London Book Fair, her poems have been broadcast widely on BBC Radio 3 and 4 as well as the BBC World Service.
She has had eleven solo exhibitions of drawings in India, London, New York and Hong Kong.
Imtiaz scripts and directs video films, many of them for non-government organisations in India, working in the area of shelter, education and health for women and children.
She has been a Trustee of the Poetry Archive since 2015.
Robert Seatter has published four poetry collections: Travelling to the Fish Orchards, On the Beach with Chet Baker, Writing King Kong, all from Seren; and The Book of Snow from Two Rivers Press. A new collection, The Museum of Everything, is forthcoming from Seren in early 2021.
He has won many awards and nominations for his poetry including the National Poetry Competition, London Poetry, Forward Poetry Prize and Housman Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in many publications, magazines, on TV and radio, and even the London buses.
Robert was Chairman of The Poetry Trust which ran the acclaimed Aldeburgh Poetry Festival and is currently Chairman of The Poetry Archive.
He lives in London where he works for the BBC as Head of BBC History, following earlier careers in publishing, acting and teaching.
Lavinia Singer lives in London, UK, and is an editor of poetry at Faber & Faber. She is the author of the poetry pamphlet Ornaments: a handbook (If a Glyph Falls Press, 2020) and co-editor of Try To Be Better (Prototype, 2019), a creative-critical engagement with the poet W. S. Graham. Her poetry explores the creative process, artifice and materiality, and has appeared in various magazines, journals and anthologies.
Lavinia joined the Poetry Archive as a Trustee in 2019.