The two events marked the end of six years of the ground breaking programme. Set up to give poets at a critical moment in their careers a moment to pause, reflect, and recharge, Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships have become a major landmark in the UK poetry sector; a sector awash with extraordinary voices and diversity, yet very limited resources and opportunities.
The first event, The Gift of Mentoring, showcased the work of the 2021/22 Fellows Romalyn Ante, Dzifa Benson and Jamie Hale read work that they had written during the Fellowship year with support from their mentors. Mentoring was a crucial element of the Fellowships and we took care to match the Fellows with a mentor that could support them to find confidence and develop their practices to make important breakthroughs in their careers. On the night, the poets presented readings rooted in diverse interests and influences, ranging from exploration of one’s heritage and language to formal experimentation with writing exercises. The evening also included a conversation between the Fellows and their mentors Fiona Benson, Pascale Petit and Nathalie Teitler on the power of mentoring in their experiences.
You can watch the recording of The Gift of Mentoring here.
For the second event, A Celebration of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships, we were delighted to bring together for the first time six of the nine Fellows from the three editions of the Fellowships. Dzifa Benson and Jamie Hale were joined by Yomi Ṣode (2019/20), Jane Commane (2017/18), Hafsah Aneela Bashir (2019/20) and Anthony Joseph (2019/20). Each Fellow spoke about the unique role that the support had played in their career development before reading from their recently published collections and/or new work. Their poetry touched on the lives of Black British men and boys, post-industrial towns and landscapes, personal histories and the transformative power of writing and creativity.