A very late announcement I know (my thesis had been absorbing my time) but I WON THE IVAN JURITZ PRIZE! This was the prize's fifth year, but it was the first year that a writer had won. So to me this feels like a particularly successful contribution as a modern lyric poet.
Jeremy Harding, one of the judges of the prize, had this to say about my entry, Away My Grievance: ‘Cat Woodward describes her sequence Away My Grievance as a quest for ‘a new modern lyric answerable to our current modernity’. The poems — 36 in all — are fully confident and beautifully voiced, sometimes by an authorial ‘I’, who inhabits them fitfully, but mostly by another version of the first person speaking clearly from within the work itself — the ‘I’ of the poems. In her presentation Cat Woodward asks: ‘How far can I push the poetic operations of the lyric subject?’ Not much further, if these are anything to go on. A poetry entry for the Ivan Juritz prize isn’t necessarily asking for the same sort of judgement as a submission to a poetry editor. But the judges were lucky this year: we happened to be reading lyric verse of a high order.’
The prize giving was held at KCL, which was also the centre of the sun. My acceptance speech was about how I was going to vomit. Everyone was supportive and positive and once I'd gotten over the shock and nausea I had a fantastic time. It was wonderful to meet and talk with the other listed entrants about them and their work and I'm extremely grateful to them.
I won £1000 (which I immediately spent on plane tickets) as well as a residency at Cove Park, Scotland's international artist residency centre. The residency is being organised for next Summer, when I intend to merge with the Scottish wilderness like an ancient fey. I'm also working on a write-up of Away My Grievance which will be published alongside write-ups of all the other shortlisted entries in Textual Practice. It'll be good to write at length about the concepts I was processing and the things I was trying to materialise, and of course, I'm chuffed to have 1000 words in Textual Practice.
I've since added a few new poems to the sequence and I'm considering it complete. It's under a new title and I'm tentatively looking for a publisher.
My sincerest thanks to all of the judges and organisers, and to everyone involved in the prize. I am eternally grateful. I'm so glad that a prize like this one exists; established poetry prizes have an unfortunate tendency to reward tired, predictable and limited styles and subjects in a way that forces the interesting, exciting and innovative writing being done today out of the mainstream and into the margins. Experimental, daring, and technically challenging work deserves to be rewarded; it also deserves attention and the opportunity to be loved and enjoyed by readers of all kinds, to be experienced and to become meaningful to people. It was refreshing to have poetry considered alongside the other art forms and recognised as part of the vast and varied field of artistic innovation alive across Europe today. The judging criteria of this competition were so different to what I have become used to (and have been frequently disappointed in) and it's immensely encouraging. Of course, this prize is academic in nature, being only open to post-graduate students. I would love to see more prizes like it open to the general public and in the mainstream public eye. I wish the prize every success for the future.
A happy me with my supervisors, Denise and David, at KCL