2022’s RSL Literature Matters Awards announced

Now in their fifth year, the RSL Literature Matters Awards aim to enable literary excellence and innovation, providing writers with financial support to undertake new literary projects that extend the reach of literature. Seven projects from writers working across multiple disciplines and forms have been chosen by judges Melanie Abrahams, Sophie Collins and Ian Duhig.

These Awards are made possible by the generous donations and legacies of RSL Fellows, and by the support of our Literature Matters Supporters’ Circle.

Previous recipients of the Awards have included Anita Sethi, Pascale Petit, Michael Caines, Alycia Pirmohamed, Will Eaves, Saleh Addonia, Charlotte Ansell, Richard O’Neill and Janett Plummer.

The seven projects are:

Multiplicative Adventures is a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ writing project that connects literature to mathematics for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Rachael Li Ming Chong is a poet of Chinese-Malaysian heritage, born and based in London. She is drawn to writing about diaspora, displacement, identity and home. Her voice is shaped by her job teaching at an inner-city comprehensive school.

Irish Creative Writing Summer School will be a creative writing summer school for children aged 9-12 of Irish, Irish Traveller, and Roma ethnicity. ArtsGroupie (Margaret Connell, Michael Dunne and John Maguire) is a community interest company (CIC), incorporated in 2018. We specialise in the performing arts, community outreach, and heritage conservation. Their mission is to provide access to arts, culture, and creativity to all communities.

Too Little/Too Hard: writers on the intersections of work, time and value will be a quarterly online publication and bi-monthly podcast of new writing and discussions of literary work, time and value. Dr Livia Franchini and Dr Lucy Mercer are two writers, poets and academics based in London. Livia is the author of a novel, Shelf Life (Doubleday, 2019) and Lucy is the author of Emblem (Prototype, 2022) a collection of poems. They have been collaborating since meeting at Goldsmiths in 2020.

Sarah Hesketh – ‘Boo Do’ – A hybrid work of poetry/oral history that explores experiences of breastfeeding will explore breastfeeding experiences through poetry and oral history, interviewing women about their personal experiences and working creatively with the transcripts of those interviews to explore issues such as physical intimacy, the relationship between mums and their babies, and the female body in public and private spaces. Sarah Hesketh is a highly accomplished poet whose work has gained a number of accolades including a Forward Prize commendation. She currently lives in London and works as Managing Editor for Modern Poetry in Translation magazine, as well as teaching creative writing for the Open University.

‘Tormentil’ will be a sequence of poems exploring loss, the West Yorkshire moorlands, and Ian Humphreys’ mother’s mixed Asian and African heritage. Ian Humphreys’s debut collection Zebra (Nine Arches Press) was nominated for the Portico Prize. He is the editor of Why I Write Poetry (Nine Arches), and the co-editor of After Sylvia (Nine Arches). His work has been highly commended in the Forward Prizes for Poetry and won the Hamish Canham Prize.

BPM: The Black Poets Masterclass series will be a 12-month Black Poet Masterclass series to equip Black poets with knowledge of the Black canon looking at four areas of poetic literature. Nick Makoha is the founder of The Obsidian Foundation, and winner of the 2021 Ivan Juritz prize and the Poetry London Prize. In 2017, Nick’s debut collection, Kingdom of Gravity, was shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection and was one of the Guardian’s best books of the year.

Crip-ligraphy is a series of free playwriting workshops for D/deaf, disabled and neurodivergent playwrights who consider themselves early career stage, and an opportunity to pitch a monologue or short piece for inclusion in a paid showcase at a major theatre. Naomi Westerman is a playwright, screenwriter and novelist, and a disability rights activist. Her work has been widely staged in the UK and abroad. 2023 will see productions of four of her stage plays, and her first non-fiction book is due to be published in May 2024.

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