Michael Murphy Memorial Prize

MichaelMurphyThe inauguration of a new biennial prize for a distinctive first book of poetry in English published in Britain or Ireland was announced on National Poetry Day - October 8th - 2010 and the first prize was awarded on National Poetry Day 2011 at a ceremony at Bookmarks Bookshop in London.

The prize was established by colleagues at Nottingham Trent University in honour of the Liverpool-born poet Michael Murphy, who was 43 when he died of a brain tumour in May 2009.

Michael Murphy’s first volume of poetry, After Attila, appeared from Shoestring Press in 1998 when he was 33. Shoestring has published two subsequent collections, Elsewhere (2003) and Allotments (2008), and brought out a posthumous Collected Poems in 2011. In 2001 Michael was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize by Poetry Review as ‘New Poet of the Year’. The intention of the present prize is to extend the same recognition to another new poet.

2021 Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize Competition

The winner will receive £1000. Volumes for consideration should have been published between January 2019 and December 2020 and be of book proportions (at least 48 pages in length, with spine and binding). Four copies of each volume should be submitted, one to the Chief Executive of the English Association and one to each of the judges.

The 2021 judges

Photo of Noreen MasudNoreen Masud is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Durham University, and an AHRC/BBC New Generation Thinker 2020. She works, broadly, on literature which presents as absurd, unrevealing, embarrassing or useless, particularly in the twentieth century. Her first book (forthcoming with OUP) is on Stevie Smith and the aphorism; her new monograph project is on flat literary landscapes.




Photo of Deryn Rees-Jones

Deryn Rees-Jones was born in Liverpool with family links to North Wales, where she later studied. She won an Eric Gregory award in 1993 and ‘The Memory Tray’ (Seren, 1995) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Her other works are ‘Signs Round a Dead Body’ (Seren, 1998), ‘Quiver’ (Seren, 2004), and a groundbreaking critical study of twentieth-century women’s poetry, ‘Consorting with Angels’ (Bloodaxe, 2005), which was published alongside her accompanying anthology ‘Modern Women Poets’ (Bloodaxe, 2005). In 2004 she was named as one of Mslexia’s ‘top ten’ women poets of the decade, as well as being chosen as one of the Poetry Book Society’s Next Generation poets. In 2010 she received a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors. ‘Burying the Wren’ was published in 2012; it was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize and a Times Literary Supplement book of the year. A regular collaborator with contemporary artists, her most recent work is ‘And You, Helen’ (Seren, 2014), a book and animated poem made with the artist Charlotte Hodes about the wife and widow of the poet Edward Thomas. She is Professor of Poetry at the University of Liverpool, and is the editor of the new Pavilion Poetry series, for Liverpool University Press.

Photo of Andrew RobertsAndrew Roberts is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Dundee, and Co-Director of the Centre for Poetic Innovation (Universities of Dundee and St Andrews). He has particular interests in poetry and visual art (having led the Poetry Beyond Text project, 2009-11), modernist and contemporary poetry, psychoanalytical and cognitive theories, and the legacies of Romanticism. His books include Conrad and Masculinity (2000), Poetry and Contemporary Culture (co-edited, 2002), Geoffrey Hill (2004), and Strangeness and Power: Essays on the Poetry of Geoffrey Hill (edited, 2020).


2019 Winner

The 2019 Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize has been awarded to Sophie Collins for her collection Who is Mary Sue? (Faber&Faber, 2018)

The judges said

For all its many forms and fragments--collage, dramatic monologue, short poem, long poem, prose poem, notebook entry, and reading diary--this is a collection with a repeated and urgent theme: our frustrated and frustrating desire to read lyric poetry, particularly lyric poetry by women, biographically. It has links formally to Marianne Moore & philosophically to Denise Riley while at the same time sounding completely new and strange.


Boldly experimental, it is also quiet and understated, unsettling us as much by its silence as its accumulation of voices and  textual fragments.  Sometimes oblique but always challenging, this book is prepared to take risks, to be both playful and disturbing at the same time.


Sophie will receive her prize at the English Association's Annual General Meeting on 20 May 2020 .


2017 Winner

The 2017 Michael Murphy Memorial Poetry Prize has been awarded to Rebecca Perry for her collection Beauty/Beauty (Bloodaxe Books, 2015)

The judges said

we were impressed by the book's refreshing ambition and sophistication, its liveliness and bounce, and how rewarding the poems were as we read and re-read them.

Rebecca will received her £1000 prize at the English Association's Annual General Meeting on 23rd May 2018 at the British Academy, 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London.

2017 Shortlist

Claire Askew, This Changes Things (Bloodaxe)

Nancy Campbell, Disko Bay (Enitharmon)

John Dennison, Otherwise (Carcanet)

Kate Miller, The Observances (Carcanet)

Rebecca Perry, Beauty/ Beauty (Bloodaxe)

2015 Prize

The winner of the 2015 competition was Hannah Lowe for her collection Chick [Bloodaxe Books] 8 October 2015. Hannah received her prize at the Association's 2016 Annual General Meeting at the British Academy.

Shortlist released [9 July 2015]

2013 Prize

The winner of the 2013 prize was Oli Hazzard for 'Between Two Windows' (Carcanet Press).

The winner was announced on National Poetry Day - 3 October 2013 - and the prize was awarded at the English Association-sponsored Poetry Cafe at the Cheltenham Literature Festival on 11 October,


The shortlist for the 2013 prize was announced on 3 June 2013. The shortlisted books are:

  • James Brookes, SINS OF THE LEOPARD (Salt)
  • Oli Hazzard, BETWEEN TWO WINDOWS (Carcanet)
  • Julith Jedamus, THE SWERVE (Carcanet)
  • William Letford, BEVEL (Carcanet)
  • Alistair Noon, EARTH RECORDS (Nine Arches)
  • Michelle O'Sullivan, THE BLUE END OF THE STARS (Gallery)
  • Maria Taylor, MELANCHRINI (Nine Arches)
  • Ahren Warner, CONFER (Bloodaxe)


2011 Winner

The winner of the 2011 award was Ciaran Berry for The Sphere of Birds (The Gallery Press). Read more . . .

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