A panel headed by Jeanette Winterson, who is joined by the poets Paul Farley and Sheenagh Pugh, the actor Samuel West and journalist David Mills have included Hannah Lowe's CHICK in the shortlist for the £5,000 Best First Collection prize. Hannah's collection is published by Bloodaxe Books.
Previous winners have included Sam Riviere's 81 Austerities and Kid by Simon Armitage.
The awards will be announced at a ceremony in London's Southbank Centre on 1 October 2013.
Praise for CHICK:
'CHICK opens with a powerful sequence of poems centred around the poet's memories of her Chinese/black Jamaican father - a complex, larger than life character who came to London in the late 40s and eked out a living as, among other things, a gambler. But the book is very much more than a personal reminiscence and family history. This is a collection cross-hatched with myth and history, a hymn to London as much as to its characters. Though all the poems have a strong, vividly cinematographic line, they are also beautifully lyrical - sung stories, offering us the glimpsed lives of strangers and lovers. But however poignant and moving it may be, the collection remains doggedly celebratory of life itself, of people and place, loved and remembered. Each poem takes us a little further into the mystery of lives in a world that is as incomprehensible as it is unforgettable. This is an outstanding, unputdownable first collection' - John Glenday.
'Here is a poet with a commanding style; her voice is entirely her own, both rich and laconic. These are poems springing from the page with vitality, rue and insight. Her elegies are restrained and devastating. An extraordinary debut' - Penelope Shuttle.
'CHICK is an unforgettable book. In an age where blurby superlatives compete on debut book covers, this one has an edge: it is about someone, namely the poet's late father, from whose name it takes its title. …The reader approaches the book not only as a set of poems but as a narrative with a fascinating central character. …The early poems about him are riveting. … [The poem] 'Say', which exploits understatement to the full, is remarkable, and heartbreaking. … And did I like the poet? Yes, enormously. You couldn't not. She is there as a child, and a young, vulnerable adult, and then as a grown woman lamenting her own unfatherly father with compassion, but without sentiment.' - Helena Nelson, Magma
'A notable achievement, particularly in a first book … a sustained elegiac sequence, raw, but consistently well-wrought. … Lowe's poetry is vibrant and sensual.' - Chloe Stopa-Hunt, Poetry Review
Links to some of Hannah's blogs and readings:
Hannah's blog: www.hannahlowe.org/blog/
Video of Hannah reading, from the Bloodaxe site: http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/titlepage.asp?isbn=1852249609
Video of the Edinburgh World Writers' debate, with address by Hannah Lowe at the beginning and responses to questions re memoir:
Hannah's blog about the Edinburgh World Writers' Conference: