Toggle description
Raymond Antrobus. Image: Lee Townsend

Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow wins 2017 Geoffrey Dearmer Poetry Prize

02 July 2018

Raymond Antrobus, has won the 2017 Geoffrey Dearmer prize with the poem Sound Machine. The Prize, which is awarded annually to a poem by a poet who hadn’t, at the time their work appeared, published a full collection, was judged this year by poet Ocean Vuong.

Raymond Antrobus said:

I’m honoured. I’m a fan of Ocean Vuong’s poetry so that makes it even more special. Sound Machine brings together multiple themes I’d been exploring the language of — grief, music, masculinity, the diaspora, deafness etc. To know I can bring all these elements to the same page and have that celebrated is a huge thing for me and my work.

I think it was Roger Robinson who encouraged me to read poems for their music, to understand poems as “scores of sound” and I’d written a sonnet sequence about my Dad, his records and parts of his soundsystem, which is literally all I inherited from him when he died. But the Shakespearean sonnets weren’t singing with the right energy, so I re-wrote them, keeping parts of the lines from the original draft. The end result, ‘Sound Machine’, was merging two drafts of sonnets together like a kind of fusing reminiscent of the way my Dad mixed his own dubs and how they fell on my ears.

The Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, established in 1998 in memory of The Poetry Society’s oldest member, celebrates its 40th year in 2018. It has an enviable record of rewarding poets who have subsequently become leading figures in contemporary poetry and have gone on to publish prize-winning collections. Winners include Paul Farley, twice winner of the Forward Prize twice, and winner of the Somerset Maugham Award and the Whitbread Poetry Award; Kim Moore, winner of the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for Poetry 2016; and Kayo Chingonyi, winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2018.

Raymond Antrobus is a Hackney-born British Jamaican poet, educator, editor and curator of the Chill Pill event series. His pamphlet, To Sweeten Bitter (2017), is published by Out-Spoken Press and his forthcoming debut, The Perseverance (2018) will be published by Penned in the Margins in October. He is a Complete Works III fellow and one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word education (Goldsmiths, University of London).