Parmar and Shihab Nye to judge Ledbury Poetry Prize

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The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) announces a call for proposals for the (Un)Infecting the City public arts festival 2021, which will run from March – April 2021. As South Africa grapples with the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s (Un)Infecting the City will have a particular thematic focus on the psychological and social impacts of COVID-19.
 
The longest running public arts festival in South Africa, Infecting the City, renamed (Un)Infecting the City for this year, offers a unique opportunity to bring art, music, dance and performance out of theatres and galleries and into the streets and public spaces of Cape Town. The Festival reimagines transport and shopping hubs, squares, gardens and public walkways as transformative stages, showcasing an array of multi-disciplinary art forms, and creating a platform for artworks that engage with historical and contemporary narratives relevant to the City and its people.

COVID-19 has led to a dramatic loss of human life nationwide, and the beginning of 2021, in particular, has seen many people have to come to terms with the loss of loved ones. The pandemic has also presented an unprecedented challenge to mental health, food systems and employment.
 
Still observing the Festival’s city-based concerns of urbanity and spatial politics, proposals must consider how these concerns have been further exacerbated by the pandemic. Artworks may include themes ranging from, but not limited to:

  • Grieving, mourning rites and memorialisation
  • (Mental) health
  • COVID-19 health and safety precautions such as the proper use of a mask, the meaning(s) of social distance, risks of moving in crowded places
  • Care while infected with COVID
  • Stigmas around illness
  • Nutrition
  • Vaccination

Naomi Shihab Nye and Sandeep Parmar are to judge this year’s £5,000 Ledbury Poetry Prize for Second Collections. 
 
The prize was set up in 2016 as the first “mid-career” prize for poetry. It aims to support and encourage poets with a shortlist, and a prize of £5,000 for a winning second collection. In assessing the shortlisted second collections, the judges will also read the poets’ first collections and take account of how their work has developed from debut to second book. Submissions must have been published in Britain and Ireland in 2019 or 2020. 

The shortlisted poets will be invited to read at an online prizegiving event as part of the Ledbury Poetry Festival, where the judges will announce the winner.

Commenting on the role, Parmar, who won the inaugural prize, said: “I’m so pleased to co-judge the Ledbury Poetry Prize for Second Collections, which is a prize that uniquely tracks the maturing of a poet’s voice beyond their (often more visible) debut collections. A second collection can be an opportunity for the poet’s imagination to free itself from expectations, and take risks by shaking off traditional structures and modes to open up new ways going forward. It can be a telling hinge in a poet’s career and a sign of innovations to come, whether that book becomes a discrete project onto itself or a continued conversation with its readership. I look forward to seeing what these poets produced when they returned to their desks and once again face the blank page.”

Shihab Nye, current Young People’s Poet Laureate of the United States, added: “It’s often easy to begin, but harder to continue. I’m happy to judge a prize which respects the continuance of a writer’s practice, a voice unfolding beyond the joyous flush of a first book. May we all feel fortified to continue the work which nourishes us. I am honored to be judging with Sandeep Parmar — please know we will read your work with greatest appreciation.”

Publishers should send three copies of each submitted second collection to the Ledbury Poetry Festival no later than Friday 26th February 2021. Initially, books can be submitted by PDF or by post. Emails can be sent to director@poetry-festival.co.uk or posted to Ledbury Poetry Festival, The Master’s House, Ledbury HR8 1EA.