In today’s roundup of recent poetry news, we take a look at the winner of the PEN Pinter prize for 2019. We also have a short article on Ocean Vuong’s first novel.
PEN Pinter Prize Winner Announced
The poet and playwright Lemn Sissay was announced as the winner of this year’s PEN Pinter award.
Set up in memory of Harold Pinter the playwright, the PEN Pinter prize is an annual award that is given to a writer who is a resident of the UK, Republic of Ireland or the Commonwealth. They should be a writer of outstanding literary merit who as Pinter said in his Nobel Prize in literature speech, casts an
Each year the prize is shared, the English PEN Writers at Risk Committee select an international wrier of courage in consultation with the winner. This part of the prize is given to someone who has spoken out about their beliefs and been persecuted for doing so.
Sissay, who met Pinter a number of years ago said of the award:
The official poet of the 2012 Olympics that took place in London, Sissay who is 52, grew up in the care system. He has frequently spoken about his life; how he was imprisoned, bullied and even physically assaulted by care staff. His search for his birth family has been well documented as well.
In 2015 he was also the FA cup poet. Sissay has also been awarded an MBE for services to literature and holds a position as chancellor of the University of Manchester.
The award will be given at a ceremony that will take place at the British Library on 10th October. Pinter’s widow, Lady Antonia Fraser, feels that the prize is a really good way to remember her late husband. Like him, it combines an undeniable insistence on human rights and the respect for some great writing.
The prize, which was first awarded in 2009, has a list of former winners including Margaret Atwood, Sir Tom Stoppard and Dame Carol Ann Duffy.
Ocean Vuong’s Long Anticipated Novel Has Arrived
Night Sky with Exit wounds, his 2016 collection of poetry, catapulted Ocean Vuong into the spotlight, He won the Whiting Award and also the T.S. Elliot prize. His next venture, a novel “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” is out now and has been highly anticipated in the literary world, and it doesn’t disappoint. The thoroughly contemporary work is based in many ways on the poet’s own life and upbringing. It has a lyrical quality to the writing that is reminiscent of Vuong’s poetry, so much so that it is hard to believe how he has made such a leap from being illiterate. He didn’t learn how to read until he was 11 years old, and now he has been lauded for writing an award-winning collection of poetry and now a novel.
The novel is already being hailed as a piece of work that is just as incredible as Vuong’s poetry.