Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011 - Winner announced

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Posted: 4 November 2011

Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011 - Winner announced

The winner of the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize 2011 - one of the most important and long-established poetry awards in the UK - was announced at the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival on Friday 4 November at 8pm. The recipient of this best first collection prize is Nancy Gaffield for Tokaido Road published by CB Editions.

A year ago, Nancy Gaffield was still waiting to hear if her book would be published and she was simply astonished at the news of her win:

"Tokaido Road was a book that just had to be written; how it would be received was a complete unknown. I never imagined that it would achieve such recognition. Aldeburgh attracts support from so many distinguished poets and commands so much respect, that I could not have wished for a better reception for my work."

The book (which was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection) was described by judge Robert Seatter as: "a remarkable piece of subtle, sustained and surprisingwriting. Taking as its starting point a set of period Japanese prints, Nancy reinvents these imagesas a revelatory journey which feels both fresh and timeless. It's as if every word must have been written before, but comes new off the page."

"The poems are strong in atmosphere and realisation, fluid, involving, at home with the uncertain, with human grief, memory, longing, history", according to fellow judge Penelope Shuttle. "Here, then, is poetry as time machine, providing what Elizabeth Bishop required of poetry - ‘mystery, accuracy, and spontaneity'."


Charles Boyle, Founding Editor of CB Editions said:

"However good, first collections from small presses are rarely noticed by more than a handful of dedicated readers. Even to be on the shortlist for the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize makes a big difference: attention is focused, and the book begins to gain the readership it deserves. The prize deserves the continuing support of everyone - the Arts Council included - interested in widening the audience for new poetry."

In addition the cash award (£1,000), the Aldeburgh prize carries two incalculable benefits for the winner. Nancy Gaffield
will receive a paid invitation to read at next year's 24th Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, plus a unique week's paid protected
writing time on the inspirational East Suffolk coast. No other poetry prize makes such an investment in new talent.

Poem 17
from Tokaido Road:


At Yui, travellers had a choice: risk drowning at sea or death by bandits

on Satta Pass. In the garden this morning kill-fish lap

their bowl indifferent to crows balancing on the rim.

Ack-ack-ack-ack, crows laugh as they watch fish loop-the-loop.


too close to the edge, torn between safety and danger.

Trees fall away from the blue-green waters of Suruga,

four junks head for the point of vanishing.

I am not jealous,


though I know he's not alone, Kikuyo thinks. She paints

her bottom lip and chooses the high road. Leaves

at once as clouds unravel the day.

The Aldeburgh First Collection Prize, established in 1989, was the first UK award designed to recognise and benefit a poet at first book stage. Supported from 2003 until 2008 by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation (as the Jerwood Aldeburgh First Collection Prize), it is one of the UK's oldest and most influential prizes for contemporary poetry. Previous winners have included Robin Robertson, Nick Laird and Colette Bryce.

The judges
for the 2011 Aldeburgh First Collection Prize were Michael Laskey (Chair), Robert Seatter and Penelope Shuttle. Their 2011 Shortlist comprised:


Rachael Boast Sidereal (Picador)

Tom Duddy The Hiding Place (Arlen House)

Nancy Gaffield Tokaido Road (CB Editions)

Ed Reiss Your Sort (Smith Doorstop)

Jacqueline Saphra The Kitchen of Lovely Contraptions (Flipped Eye Publishing)

The Poetry Trust is currently one of the UK's flagship poetry organisations, core funded by Arts Council England to deliver a year-round programme of live events, creative education opportunities, courses, prizes and publications. The annual Aldeburgh Poetry Festival, this year celebrating its 23rd birthday, (4-6 November 2011) is the Trust's most high profile activity. The Poetry Trust will cease to receive regular funding from Arts Council England from April 2012 and the future of the organisation is uncertain.


CB editions publishes mainly short fiction and poetry, including work in translation. CB editions titles have already won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize once - in 2009 with JO Morgan's Natural Mechanical - and two titles were shortlisted for the 2011 Forward Poetry Prizes. An overview of CB editions, part of the online Guardian's continuing series on small presses, can be read at:

Source: The Poetry Trust

Categories: Poetry Prizes

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