Folio Judges Announced/AGT History Made By Poet – Poetry News Roundup September 25th

Our final news round-up of the week looks at the judges for this year’s Rathbones Folio Prize and the poet who has won America’s Got Talent.

Rathbones Folio Prize Judges Announced

Roger Robinson, the TS Eliot Prize-winning poet, Sinead Gleeson the Irish writer and the novelist Jon McGregor have all been named as the 2021 Rathbones Folio Prizes judges.

The Rathbone Prize has a £30,000 prize and is often referred to as the “writers prize”. It is given for the best work of literature, no matter what form it takes.

This year, the prize was awarded to Valeria Luisella the Mexican novelist and essayist for her autobiographical work.

The shortlist for 2021 will be announced in February and the prize ceremony, whether it takes place as a physical event of in a digital format will take place in March.

The announcement regarding the judges has been made at the same time as the one regarding the mentors who will be working on the Folio academy scheme. The scheme helps four disadvantaged students with four members of The Folio Academy, who will act as mentors. They will be offered one-to-one tutoring for creative writing for a period of twelve months.

Raymond Antrobus, the winner of the prize in 2019, and the Ted Hughes Poetry Prize also in 2019, Vahni Capildeo the 2016 Forward Prize winner, Paul Farly the nonfiction writer and poet and Rachel Long the leader of the Octavia Poetry Collective for Women of Colour are this year’s mentors.

The mentorship programme is relatively new, having been launched in 2018 in collaboration with First Story which is a leading charity working in the field of creative writing.

Spoken Word Poet Makes AGT History

Brandon Leake, a spoken-word poet, has been crowned as the winner of the 15th Season of America’s Got Talent. He is the first spoken word poet to have appeared on the show since it began.

It has been 17 long weeks, but the wait is over for Leake who beat nine other contestants in the final of the competition, which took place during a spectacular 2-hour show. He has won the cash prize of $1 million and has also been offered the chance to headline a show in Las Vegas.

Leake, who is 27 years old, beat a variety of different acts to qualify in the top 5. He then made it to the top two and battled it out alongside a singing duo before finally being named as the winner.

His powerful performances have enchanted the judges at every stage of the competition and earned him a Golden Buzzer from one of the judges, Howie Mandel.

His audition piece was a powerful and touching poem about his late sister. The quarter-final performance was a dedication to the Black Lives Matter movement. His semi-final poem was a tug to the heartstrings as he addressed the issues of growing up without a father, and his final poem was written for his daughter.

Leake’s win was particularly poignant as he was turned down for the show in 2017 following his audition.

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