The Poetry Book Awards is an annual international prize given to the best poetry books published by indie writers, self-published authors, or small, genuinely independent presses. Now in its fifth year, the Poetry Book Awards is a truly international competition, accessible to all (through the English language), and shows how Wales can punch above its weight in the literary world.
The contest organisers have announced this year’s winners of the prestigious prize, judged by me, Welsh poet and writer Dave Lewis. The overall winner was Megan Fernandes for her wonderful book I Do Everything I’m Told.
Poetry Book Awards winners
The full list of winners is as follows:
1st prize: Megan Fernandes, USA, I Do Everything I’m Told
2nd prize: Michael Loderstedt, USA, Why We Fished
3rd prize: Naoise Gale, UK, After the Flood Comes the Apologies
The winning book is a seething, edgy, mystical, surgically precise collection of love songs that hops from continent to continent. From LA to Lisbon, from Paris to Palermo, a subtle restlessness permeates these superbly crafted poems about lust, lovers, history, literature, and specific moments in time and place.
The opening poem conjured up William Carlos Williams’ wheelbarrow for me, while the prose that follows moves between Michelle Tea and ‘the Beats’. The pace slowly quickens. We begin to travel, to move, to miscarry, to mature, to dream, to make love. A relationship in Shanghai becomes galactic – ‘on Saturn’s highway of ice’, ‘you’ll hop a few rings’ – while there’s always an awareness of time, ‘simultaneous dawns breaking over Hong Kong and Nairobi’.
The world of books
Once again, this Pontypridd-based contest has had a global impact. Poets entered books from Australia, Canada, Cyprus, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, New Zealand, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Portugal, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, the UAE, the USA, and Wales!
The standard was exceptionally high this year, and the subject matter was as diverse as can be. There was poetry about the Romany language, pig songs, magic, the Anthropocene, dementia, travel, drug abuse, our connection to the universe, mental health, painting, war, Cyprus, nature, Pakistani culture, Buddhism, the power of the sea, feminism, flies, and plastic bags.
Thanks go to Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Libraries, who have kindly taken the books submitted to the awards for their poetry collection. And a big thank you to all those poets who submitted their books to the competition. There is more superb poetry in our shortlist so please check those writers out too. We look forward to doing it all again next year.
Poetry Book Awards shortlist
Links to the top 25 books plus judge’s comments on the winning entries can be viewed on the competition website. The contest opens for submissions again on 1 January 2024.
The shortlist, in no particular order, was:
To find out more or to buy copies of these great books just click each author and title above. See you next year for the International Poetry Book Awards 2024.