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The 2019 Young Writer Of The Year Award Winner

A photograph of Raymond Antrobus

The Young Writer of the Year Award 2019 was won yesterday evening by Raymond Antrobus for his poetry collection, The Perseverance. I was unfortunately unable to get there this year but I have details to share; it is fab news, a well deserved win. The poet has also won this year’s Ted Hughes Prize, the Rathbones Folio Prize, and a Somerset Maugham Award; he’s been shortlisted for many others. In terms of Young Writer, he joins Sarah Howe, Max Porter, Sally Rooney, and Adam Weymouth in the list of winners since the prize was relaunched.

Kate Clanchy, one of the five judges said:

“…We wanted to find a writer who both speaks for now and who we were confident would continue to produce valuable, central work. Raymond Antrobus’ The Perseverance draws together the worlds of performance and page poetry and speaks for his Jamaican British heritage and his d/Deaf communities in a way that is completely contemporary; but it was the humanity of the book, its tempered kindness, and its commitment not just to recognising difference but to the difficult act of forgiveness that made us confident we had
found a winner for this extraordinary year.”

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The poet was six when his deafness was discovered; previously it had been thought he had learning difficulties. He worked in different jobs – removals, gyms, swimming pools, security – before becoming a teacher. He used some of the winning money from the Rathbones Folio Prize to mentor a group of deaf children at his old school, Blanche Nevile School for Deaf Children, and for groups of students from both Blanche Nevile and Oak Lodge Deaf School, where his former headteacher now works, to go on poetry, theatre and literature trips throughout the year.

This year all the shortlisted authors will receive a year’s membership to the London Library, where the award ceremony was held. The three other shortlisted authors were Julia Armfield (Salt Slow), Yara Rodrigues Fowler (Stubborn Archivist, and Kim Sherwood (Testament).

The photo of Raymond Antrobus is by Caleb Femi.


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