Disabled Poets Prize

The Disabled Poets Prize is a new award for deaf and disabled poets. There are very few opportunities to celebrate the work of deaf and disabled poets. CRIPtic Arts is proud to be a partner on a project designed by myself – founder and Artistic Director Jamie Hale to address that.

About the prize

The first Disabled Poets Prize is open for entries from UK-based deaf and disabled poets from 1st September – 31st October. We will hold the inaugural awards in 2023. We are launching this, alongside Spread the Word and Verve Poetry Press & Festival, and for me, it is a dream come true. It is a real chance to change the landscape of poetry for other deaf and disabled writers.

Being a disabled poet

Being a disabled poet means constantly being a poet who is writing against. When I engage with my own body, I carry the weight of everyone’s fears about their own mortality, even as I’m celebrating my freedom. When I engage with the poetry world, I am always working against spaces that are not accessible to many disabled poets.

My career in the arts

I built my portfolio and work as a disabled writer against this backdrop. A range of people and venues that were able to work with my access requirements supported me – from the Barbican Centre to Spread the Word. I know I am very lucky, and so am committed to ‘giving something back’. I founded CRIPtic Arts to offer support, development, and showcasing opportunities to deaf and disabled artists, working within the industry to improve access. The Arts Council England funded a range of activities.

This included the Deaf & Disabled Writers’ Salon that emerged from the Spread the Word residential-from-home I curated at the height of the pandemic. The more time I spent programming the Salon, the clearer it became how many incredibly talented writers were having no access to opportunities.

Being one of three Jerwood Poetry Fellows gave me time to focus on my own writing and development. It also made me even more determined to find ways of supporting the deaf and disabled poetry community. This is where the Disabled Poets Prize came from.

The prize

By working in three categories – best single poem, best unpublished pamphlet, and best poem performed in British Sign Language, I’m hoping that we will be able to support, hold, and uplift a new and diverse range of deaf and disabled writers. This will tell presses, agents, and programmers who to look out for. It also allows us to really celebrate the talent in our community.

To enter between 1st Sept and 31st Oct 2022, just visit our website on https://disabledpoetsprize.org.uk/awards/ . Entries are free, though we ask for a recommended donation of £7 if you can afford it, to help cover the costs of the awards and to allow them to remain free into the future.

Supporting the prize

As a disabled poet, I have never felt that the poetry world truly wanted me. It feels like that’s changing, as access rises higher up the agenda for an increasing number of people and organisations. 

Individual donations are partially sustaining the prize. This allows us to give generous awards to a significant number of winners. If you are able to donate to the costs of the prize for this year or next, please consider donating. You can donate via TotalGiving

If you’re an arts (and especially poetry) organisation, please consider supporting the Disabled Poets Prize. This will help us establish ourselves as an annual award. You can support financially or by providing opportunities for shortlisted and prizewinning poets.

For more information about this, please see https://disabledpoetsprize.org.uk/get-involved/ or get in touch with us on hello@disabledpoetsprize.org.uk

These awards would not have been possible without the financial support of many. This includes Spread the Word, Verve Poetry Festival, Nathalie Teitler, and Jamie Hale. We also received generous awards from Verve Poetry Press, The Arvon Foundation, and The Literary Consultancy.