Wilfred Owen Poetry Award

The Wilfred Owen Association presents a biennial Poetry Award to honour a poet for a sustained body of work that includes memorable war poems.

The Wilfred Owen Association is pleased and proud to announce that Sir Andrew Motion has agreed to accept the Wilfred Owen Poetry Award for 2014. More information to follow shortly.

Previous recipients

  • The recipient of the 2012 Award was Gillian Clarke, the National Poet of Wales, and recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2010.

Gillian Clarke was born in 1937 and brought up in Cardiff. Although both of her parents were Welsh-speakers, she was not brought up to speak the language but – like R.S.Thomas – learned it as an adult.  She and her husband now live in mid-Wales, where, in addition to all their other activities, they run an organic smallholding.

Gillian studied English at the University of Wales in Cardiff, and worked briefly at the BBC before marriage and motherhood.  Her first mature poem, “The Sun Dial”, became the title poem of her first collection in 1978: there have been eleven volumes since, published mostly by Carcanet. Gillian was Editor for some years of the Anglo-Welsh Review , and is closely connected with the Writers’ Centre at Tŷ Newydd, near Cricieth in North Wales – at which the WOA now offers an annual bursary.

The WOA likes to give the Award to writers who have created a substantial body of work over the years. We do not at all insist that the recipient should be primarily a “war poet”, but it is naturally a major theme for modern poets, and all the recipients so far have, at one time or another, tackled the subject of war. Gillian Clarke has written a number of such poems – notably about the Bosnian War and the First Gulf War.  Poems such as “The Field Mouse” and “Siege” dramatically and poignantly use the Welsh landscape as both backdrop and metaphor for human hope and human cruelty.

In October 2011, a number of WOA members were able to meet Gillian, and to hear her read, at the opening of the Forester’s House near Ors. Following upon this, the Committee unanimously agreed to offer her the WOA Award for this coming year. The award is made every two years, and previous recipients include the late Christopher Logue, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Tony Harrison, Dannie Abse and Professor Jon Stallworthy.  Gillian Clarke is a distinguished addition to this list. 

  • The recipient of the 2010 Award was Professor Jon Stallworthy, FBA, FRSL, poet, biographer, and literary scholar.
Jon (Howie) Stallworthy is Professor Emertius of English at the University of Oxford, and Fellow and former Acting President of Wolfson College, Oxford. Born in 1935, he was educated at the Dragon School, Rugby School, and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Prize for Poetry.  He also served in the Royal West African Frontier Force.  He was poetry editor at Oxford University Press and John Wendell Anderson Professor of English at Cornell University, New York. 

His collections of poetry include The Astronomy of Love (1961), Out of Bounds (1963), Root and Branch (1969), Hand in Hand (1974), A Familiar Tree (1978), The Anzac Sonata (1986), The Guest from the Future (1995), Rounding the Horn: Collected Poems (1998) and Body Language (2004).  His autobiography, The Singing School: The Making of a Poet, was published in 1998 and a collection of essays, Survivors' Songs, in 2008.

Jon Stallworthy's work has received numerous awards.  His biography of Wilfred Owen (1974) was honored with the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the W. H. Smith Literary Award, and the E. M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His study of Yeats won the M. L. Rosenthal Award, while Louis MacNeice: A Biography (1995) won the Southern Arts Literature Prize.

He edited Owen’s Complete Poems and Fragments (1984) and Henry Reed’s Collected Poems, as well as numerous anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Poetry (1996, with Margaret Ferguson and Mary Jo Salter), A Book of Love Poetry (1974), and The Oxford Book of War Poetry (1984). With Peter France, he co-translated Alexander Blok’s Selected Poems (1970, originally titled The Twelve and Other Poems) and Boris Pasternak’s Selected Poems (1983).

The presentation took take place at Wolfson College, Oxford, on Saturday November 13th 2010. Professor Stallworthy was interviewed by Dr Jane Potter and read some of his poetry.

Thanks to sponsorship from Coutts, the WOA has commission Royal College of Art student Chrystalla Achilleos to design the award itself. 

  • Other recipients are:

Christopher Logue (1998)
Seamus Heaney (2000)
Michael Longley (2003)
Harold Pinter (2005)
Tony Harrison (2007)

Dr Dannie Abse (2009)

 

Sponsorship opportunity: The Wilfred Owen Association is currently seeking sponsorship for this prestigious award. For further details please contact Yvonne Morris at woa@1914-18.co.uk