We're delighted to announce that the Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics mentoring programme is open to applications for the second year running. The initiative was co-founded by PBS Book Selector Sandeep Parmar to encourage diversity in poetry reviewing culture and last year their reviews were featured in the PBS Summer Bulletin.
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. In tandem with this, a US- based Emerging Critics mentorship programme focused on diversity will pilot in 2019-20. It will be based in Atlanta, on the campus of Georgia Institute of technology, and supported by US-based poets and poetry organisations.
Sandeep Parmar, co-founder of the scheme says “the tremendous successes of the Ledbury Critics programme has been borne out entirely by the critics themselves through their many brilliantly written, thoughtful and engaged reviews. Swiftly, these initial eight critics are changing how we appreciate poetry in Britain with the sheer strength of their deeply informed and nuanced reading. A door has been opened that will not be shut; it is time to usher in a whole new and diverse
generation of critical voices.”
Sarah Howe, co-founder of the scheme says “rapidly earning reputations as essential new critical voices, the first cohort of Ledbury Critics has already begun to reshape the landscape of British poetry reviewing. In reviews that combine analytical nous with hard-won insights, their critical ears are able to pick up on frequencies that once went unheard."
How To Apply:
UK applicants should send a covering letter and sample review of a
recent poetry collection, pamphlet or live poetry performance (by any
contemporary poet) of up to 800 words to Sandeep.firstname.lastname@example.org or by
post (address below). This review may be previously published or unpublished.
The deadline for applications is Monday 1 April 2019. Find out more here.