Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics scheme returns for second year

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Ledbury Poetry Festival

The Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics scheme which mentors new BAME critics is returning for a second round, following success for its inaugural programme.

The re-run of the mentoring programme, which looks to encourage diversity in poetry reviewing and culture, is now open to applications from new and emerging critical voices.

In late 2017, Ledbury Poetry Festival, along with poets Sandeep Parmar and Sarah Howe, launched a year-long intensive mentorship scheme for eight emerging BAME poetry reviewers: Dzifa Benson, Srishti Krishnamoorthy-Cavell, Mary Jean Chan, Jade Cuttle, Sarala Estruch, Maryam Hessavi, Nasser Hussain and Jennifer Lee-Tsai. Working with collaborating partner publications, during the scheme these critics have published reviews in Guardian, Telegraph, New Statesman, Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Poetry Wales, and Poetry London.

As publishing and mentorship schemes targeting BAME poets and writers improve the diversity of British poetry, organisers say reviewing culture has not reflected this shift. In response, this year the Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics scheme intends to add another four emerging BAME poetry critics to its existing cohort of reviewers, offering them a place on its intensive mentorship programme that focuses specifically on redressing the imbalance in UK poetry culture. The four new mentees will be announced in May.

Scheme co-founder Sandeep Parmar said: “The tremendous successes of the Ledbury Critics programme has been borne out entirely by the critics themselves through their many brilliantly written, thoughtful and engaged reviews. Swiftly, these initial eight critics are changing how we appreciate poetry in Britain with the sheer strength of their deeply informed and nuanced reading. A door has been opened that will not be shut; it is time to usher in a whole new and diverse generation of critical voices.”

Sarah Howe, co-founder of the scheme, added: “Rapidly earning reputations as essential new critical voices, the first cohort of Ledbury Critics has already begun to reshape the landscape of British poetry reviewing. In reviews that combine analytical nous with hard-won insights, their critical ears are able to pick up on frequencies that once went unheard. So far, the Ledbury Critics’ work has been embraced by a host of editors from literary journals to national broadsheets, whose commitment to nurture and champion such previously overlooked talents shows the way forward. We are grateful to the partners whose support makes this work possible, and look forward to the scheme’s next chapter.”

Only open to candidates in the UK, applicants should send a covering letter and sample review of a recent poetry collection, pamphlet or live poetry performance (by any contemporary poet) of up to 800 words to Sandeep.parmar@liverpool.ac.uk or by post to Dr Sandeep Parmar, Co-Director, Centre for New and International Writing, Department of English, University of Liverpool, 19 Abercromby Square, Liverpool, L69 3BX. This review may be previously published or unpublished. The deadline for applications is Monday 1st April 2019. Full application details for Ledbury Emerging Poetry Critics are below and on the Ledbury Poetry Festival website www.poetry-festival.co.uk.