Winners of the Oxford Brookes International Poetry Competition 2017 announced

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Poetry centre

Poets from around the world submitted over 1,200 poems to this year’s record-breaking International Poetry Competition organised by Oxford Brookes University’s Poetry Centre.

“The response was remarkable,” said Dr Niall Munro, Director of the Poetry Centre. “We’re delighted to have received so many poems from so many wonderful poets. Our judge this year was the celebrated poet Helen Mort and she had a tough time making her decision, but the winning poems are world-class.”  

In the two categories run by the competition, Jonaki Ray won the English as an Additional Language (EAL) category and Jonathan Edwards is the winner of the Open category.  

Jonaki was educated in India and the USA, and is now a poet, writer, and editor based in India. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in American Journal of PoetryThe Matador ReviewSo to SpeakIndian Literature and Sigh Press Journal.

Speaking about her win Jonaki said: “The fact that I won the first prize in such a prestigious contest, and the judge, Helen Mort, is someone whose work I love, adds to the feeling that this is a dream come true. Winning this award has given me confidence in my writing, and for that, I am deeply thankful to the Poetry Centre and Helen Mort.”  

We’re delighted to have received so many poems from so many wonderful poets. Our judge this year was the celebrated poet Helen Mort and she had a tough time making her decision, but the winning poems are world-class.

Dr Niall Munro, Director of the Oxford Brookes University Poetry Centre

Jonathan Edwards' first collection of poems, My Family and Other Superheroes, published by Seren, received the Costa Poetry Award and the Wales Book of the Year People's Choice Award. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize. He lives in South Wales and works as a teacher.  

Jonathan said: It's an enormous honour that a poem of mine has received first prize in the Oxford Brookes Poetry Competition. It's particularly pleasing that the poem was selected by Helen Mort, who is one of the poets I respect and admire most in the world. The poem is about the legend of the Nirvana songwriter Kurt Cobain having proposed to Courtney Love in a nightclub in Newport.

"I'm really pleased that a poem with a Newport setting has received this attention, and that many teenage years of strumming along to Nirvana songs and hanging around in Newport nightclubs are finally paying off in this poem."

Both winners take home a prize of £1,000, with £200 going to the second-placed poets Vasiliki Albedo (EAL) and Natalie Whittaker (Open).  

To celebrate the worldwide power of poetry there will be an award ceremony at Oxford Brookes University in November, featuring readings from the winning poets and from Helen Mort herself.  

Details of the winning and shortlisted poems are available on the Poetry Centre's website.