Momtaza Mehri was announced the winner of the Manchester Poetry Prize 2019 at the Manchester Writing Competition on February 7, 2020.
The Manchester Writing Competition is the UK’s biggest literary awards for unpublished work, offered by the country’s most successful writing school. The Competition was established by UK Poet Laureate (2009-19) Carol Ann Duffy in 2008. Each year two £10,000 prizes are awarded: the Manchester Poetry Prize for best portfolio of poems and the Manchester Fiction Prize for best short story.
The winners for this year’s edition of the award were revealed with Momtaza Mehri honoured in the poetry and Tim Etchells in the prose at a gala this past Friday, February 7 in Manchester, UK.
Mehri, a former Young People’s Laureate for London, won the Poetry Prize for her collection of four poems Amniotica, Milk Teeth, Haematology #2 and On Finally Seeing Astarte Syriaca I Am Overcome With A Longing To Text You A Meme Only You Would Laugh At. She is a poet, essayist and meme archivist whose work has appeared in Granta, Artforum, Poetry International, BBC Radio 4, Vogue and Real Life Mag. She is the co-winner of the Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2018 and the Outspoken Page Poetry Prize 2017.
Judges hailed her “distinctive voice both playful and musical that challenges and provokes” that “speaks for a nation and constituency whilst also turning our beliefs about poetry on its head.”
Mehri said: “It’s an overwhelming and unbelievable honour to not only be shortlisted tonight but to also win the 2019 Manchester Poetry Prize. To be affirmed at such a level by my community means so much.
“Aside from obvious bewilderment, I accept this with deep gratitude to this year’s judges for seeing something worthwhile in my work and for championing contemporary experimental poetry (a tradition I will forever be indebted to). Thank you to Carol Ann Duffy, without whom this prize and the support it lends would not exist. This prize will grant me some much-needed time and space to breathe and write.