We begin the week here on My Poetic Side with a hattrick of poetry prize winners. We have the winners of the Leipzig Book Prize, the Stella Prize and the Moth Prize.
Leipzig Book Prize Winner Announced
The Russian-Jewish poet and author Maria Stepanova has been announced as the 2023 winner of the Leipzig Book Prize for European Understanding. The poet who is currently living in exile in Berlin has been described as a contemporary, powerful, voice for Russian Literature. Her book “In Memory of Memory” looks at the fall of the Soviet Union and Stalinism. The book was nominated for the Booker Prize in 2021. Now it is her poetry book “Girls Without Clothes” that has been awarded the Leipzig Prize. This poetic study looks at the difficult subject of violence that can be perpetrated against the female body and the power imbalances that exist behind this.
The judging panel praised Stepanova for what they called the unconditionality with which she requires poetic perception regarding the world around her. They felt that her work was a chamber which echoed world literature giving glimpses of the likes of Walt Whitman, Dante, Ezra Pound and even Anne Carson.
The prize was inaugurated in 1994 and is presented for a work that meets the “advancement of reconciliation” within Europe.
Given the situation with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the announcement of Stepanova as this year’s winner has come in for some criticism. However, Stepanova has been vocal in her criticism of Putin and has praised the resistance of Ukraine.
Stella Prize Winner Announced
Sarah Holland-Batt has been announced as the winner of this year’s Stella prize for her tender poems written about the death of her father. The collection is titled “The Jaguar”.
As an outspoken advocate for care reforms for the aged and poet, she is the second winner in a row to win the prize with a poetry entry. The Stella prize is $60,000 and is open to non-binary writers and Australian women. Poetry entries have only been eligible for the prize for the last two years.
Whilst the poet is well known within poetry circles, she is also a professor of literary studies and creative writing at Queensland University of Technology. She is also well known for having made national headlines in 2019. She gave evidence before the aged care royal commission regarding the abuse and neglect of her father in a nursing home.
Moth Prize Winner is London-Irish Poet
This year has seen a London-Irish winner for the Moth Poetry Prize. Laurie Bolger was awarded the €6,000 prize for her poem Parkland Walk. This year the prize was judged by Louise Gluck, the Nobel Laureate winner, who said that the winning poem had surprised her in its complete originality.
Bolger has been performing poetry for the last 10 years all over Ireland and the UK and, during lockdown, set up The Creative Writing Breakfast Club. She is currently working on her first collection of poetry, which will be titled Lady.