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Poetry collection shortlisted for prestigious international prize

20th March 2023

A collection of poetry by Northumbria University lecturer, Dr Jo Clement, has been shortlisted for the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize 2023.

Dr Clement, who teaches creative writing at Northumbria, has seen her debut collection of poetry ‘Outlandish’ singled out as a contender for the prestigious prize, which will be announced on May 3rd at the University of Dublin’s Trinity College.

With roots in the Gypsy, Roma, Traveller community, Dr Clement’s poetry considers notions of otherness, under-represented identities, and communities under threat.

Her highly acclaimed first collection of poems Outlandish, published by Bloodaxe Books in 2022, confronts Romantic impressions of British Gypsy, Roma, and Traveller ethnicity, and lyrically lays them to rest.

“Poetry is a restorative and stabilising force,” said Dr Clement. “It is a place where anything is possible. I wrote Outlandish to honour my elders and celebrate living Traveller traditions. My protest songs rally against those who choose to oppress and harm the most vulnerable in our society. They illuminate the beauty we can find in margins.”

This is the fifth year of the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize, awarded annually for an outstanding debut collection of poetry in the English language.

Valued at €10,000, the prize is sponsored by the John Pollard Foundation, and administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre in the School of English at Trinity College Dublin. The patron of the John Pollard Foundation is Stephen Vernon, who named the Foundation in memory of his grandfather, John Pollard. 

“I am astounded to have been shortlisted for the esteemed John Pollard Foundation Prize,” said Dr Clement. “Thanks must be given to the Oscar Wilde Centre. Professor Eoin McNamee, Phillip Coleman, Vona Groarke and Alice Lyons have selected debut collections that speak from such startling and unique positions. It brings me great joy to stand alongside these wonderful poets, whose writing I greatly admire.”

Dr Clement is a working-class poet and interdisciplinary researcher. BBC Radio appearances include Enchanted Isle, Northern Drift, Poetry Please, and Start the Week. With support from the European Roma Institute for Arts and Culture, Jo edited Wagtail: The Roma Women’s Poetry Anthology.

She is managing editor of Butcher’s Dog, voted 'Best Poetry Magazine' in the Saboteur Awards. She is also a Poetry Book Society (PBS) selector for 2023, choosing the very best new poetry books to be part of the PBS’ exclusive collection.

Dr Clement has been asked to read a selection of her poems at Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, Stanza, on Friday 10th March at Parliament Hall, University of St Andrews.

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