Jane Martin Poetry Prize
The Jane Martin Poetry Prize is a national poetry competition, established in 2010, in memory of Girton alumna, Jane Elizabeth Martin (1978 Classics) through the generous support of Professor Sir Laurence Martin.
Now in its 14th year, this national prize for young poets is a key part of the College’s support for poetry and will be of interest to all those who are serious about literary excellence. The competition is judged by experts drawn from across the literary world and academia. In 2023, the panel of judges was led by Rebecca Watts and Adam Crothers.
The winner receives a cash prize of £700 and will have an opportunity to give a reading at a celebratory event at Girton College, at which the prize will be awarded. There will also be a second prize of £300 cash.
We are pleased to announce that the Jane Martin Poetry Prize competition for 2024 is now open. The competition will be judged by experts drawn from across the literary world and academia. We are thrilled that this year the panel will be led by two judges – Abigail Parry and Bohdan Piasecki.
Building on the success of previous years, the 2024 winner will receive not just a cash prize of £700, but the opportunity to give a reading at the celebratory event, at which the prize will be awarded. There will also be a second cash prize of £300.
The competition opened on the 25 January and closes on 15 March 2024 at noon.
10th Anniversary Celebrations
To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize in the context of the Girton Poetic Tradition, Girton College is delighted to announce the publication a special anthology, including a selection of poems from eminent Girtonian poets, both past and present, as well as the winning poems and new ones from the Jane Martin Poetry Prize winners from the past decade. “Ten Years of The Jane Martin Poetry Prize: Celebrating Prize-Winning Poetry at Girton College” edited by Malcolm Guite and Grevel Lindop is available for purchase via our online shop.
The anniversary of the prize was also celebrated during Girton College’s first Festival of Poetry in May 2020, where current Members of College read a selection of the poems to be featured in the Anthology and which can be viewed on our YouTube playlist.
Malcolm Guite’s specially written poem celebrating the People’s Portraits:
Portraits by Moonlight
We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Jane Martin Poetry Prize, a national poetry competition for young poets, established in 2010 in memory of Girton alumna, Jane Elizabeth Martin.
- First prize was awarded to Warren Mortimer for the poems ‘Forgive me, Augustine,’ and ‘When We Moved to Morecambe’ (view poem - PDF).
- Second Prize was awarded to Olivia Tuck for the poems ‘The Obligatory Future Child Poem’ and ‘Mistress of Arts’ (view poem - PDF).
Warren Mortimer recently completed a Creative Writing PhD at Lancaster University. In 2022, he released his debut pamphlet through Green Bottle Press, Fruit Knife Autopsy. Since then, he has been published by a number of UK magazines, including The Moth, Magma, Orbis, and Stand. In 2016, he won first prize for the Lanercost Short Story Festival. Warren teaches creative writing at both BA and MA level for Lancaster university and University of Cumbria
Olivia Tuck’s work has been published by the Poetry Society and Broken Sleep, and in several print and online journals. She has been longlisted for the Rebecca Swift Foundation Women Poets’ Prize, and is an associate editor at Tears in the Fence and at Lighthouse. In 2022, she completed UEA’s MA Creative Writing – Poetry course with Distinction. Her pamphlet Things Only Borderlines Know is out now with Black Rabbit Press.
We are delighted to announce the winners of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize for 2022. First prize was awarded to Lev Crofts for the poem ‘Al-Shadhili’. Second Prize was awarded to Bea Steele for the poem ‘Curiosities’.
Lev Semyonovich is a Scottish writer and school teacher currently living in London. He has just graduated from Oxford University, St. John's College, where he read Archaeology and Anthropology. While at university he edited The Isis Magazine, was the fiction editor for the Oxford Review of Books, and his poetry, prose, and non-fiction has been published variously in The Isis Magazine, Industry Magazine, 1555 Magazine, The Mays Anthology, and The Common Ground Magazine. Since graduating he has joined the Teach First programme and works as an English teacher in a state-maintained academy in Hounslow.
Bea is an MSt student in English Literature at the University of Oxford, and she is writing her dissertation on Sentimentalism and the Scottish Enlightenment. Bea originally came from Guildford, but has spent a few years living in the Southwest of England and is returning there to complete a funded PhD. Bea has been writing poetry on and off for a long time, and considers her biggest influences to be the works of Charles Causley and John Betjeman.
We are delighted to announce the winners of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize for 2021. First prize was awarded to Sam Harvey for the poems ‘Paysage ὰ ce Tableau’ and ‘Texte Intégrale’. Second Prize was awarded to Louis Klee for the poems ‘Me by Louis Fratino’ and ‘Living next to the sea was like having tragedy for a neighbour’.
Sam Harvey for the last four years has lived in Edinburgh, away from his Indiana home, while studying for a degree in English at the University of St.Andrews. For the next short while, though, he is keeping an eye out for loons and reading about snow leopards on the shores of Loch Garry.
Louis Klee is an Australian writer currently studying at the University of Cambridge. His poetry has appeared in the TLS, Best Australian Poems, the Cambridge Literary Review, and the Australian Book Review.
Please see below for the recording of the event.
We are delighted to announce the winners of the Jane Martin Poetry Prize for 2020. First prize was awarded to Anna Forbes for the poems ‘Crossing’ and ‘Inisbofin’. Second Prize was awarded to Aayushi Jain for the poems ‘Whale Song’ and ‘Night Swim’.
Anna Forbes is from Edinburgh. She studied at King’s College London, where she received a degree in Comparative Literature. She is currently working towards an MLitt at the University of St Andrews.
Alex Houen, one of the Judges for the prize comments:
“Anna’s entry is beautifully focused on the visual, and I thought the mini-sequence poem ‘Crossing’ is really fascinating for the way that it ‘develops’ rather like a photograph (or series of photos) so that in the fields ‘resolving as we pass’ we can hear resolution to be about clarity of image and one’s relation to things. The poem pointedly does not ‘resolve’ as a narrative does, for its vision is focused on how images can be striking precisely because they keep things in tension — as with ‘softened light’ shivering around the halo-ish ‘brightness’ of a sleeping sister. There is a gentle poetic confidence about ‘Crossing’, and there is in ‘Inisbofin’, too, in the way that it develops a ‘strange relief’ (visual and emotional) with its chiaroscuro imagery. It’s not easy to be clear about shadowy things, especially when what’s shadowy extends to mood, but such clarity is what these two poems achieve, and they do it with a very impressive feel for line-breaks, prosody, and image.”
Aayushi Jain is a 24-year-old writer and musician from Birmingham. She is currently studying English Literature at the University of Exeter, and after spending a year abroad in Ottawa her short story ‘Lighthouse’ was recently published in the Write Across Canada Anthology.
Judging the prize with Alex Houen was Holly Corfield-Carr, who comments:
“What a euphoric, euphonic thing it is to read ‘Whale Song’. It is awash with sound, from the gong of the tongue to that ‘blood bassoon’ and I had an appropriately cetaceous species of a time singing along. When ‘Whale Song’ is paired with the delicate smallness of ‘Night Swim’, the scale shifts, both in size and song and the whale-mother, who in ‘Whale Song’ swallows the poet whole, in ‘Night Swim’ shrinks to the size of plankton, suspended in the belly of a jellyfish.”
As part of Girton’s Festival of Poetry fortnight (11–22 May 2020) you can watch the winners give a special reading of their winning poems below:
- 2023 First Prize: Warren Mortimer Second Prize: Olivia Tuck
- 2022 First prize: Lev Crofts Second Prize: Bea Steele.
- 2021 First Prize: Sam Harvey; Second Prize: Louis Klee
- 2020 First Prize: Anna Forbes; Second Prize: Aayushi Jain
- 2019 First Prize: Felicity Sheehy; Second Prize: Oliver Newman
- 2018 First Prize: Nina Powles; Second Prize: Dominic Leonard
- 2017 First Prize: Katie Hale; Second Prize: Andrew Wynn Owen
- 2016 First Prize: Isabel Galleymore; Second Prize: Nell Prince
- 2015 First Prize: Theophilus Kwek; Second Prize: Charlotte Buckley
- 2014 First Prize: Alexandra Strnad; Second Prize: Penny Boxall
- 2013 Jen Campbell
- 2012 Jane Yeh
- 2011 Agnes Lehoczky and Emily Critchley