Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship 2021/22

Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship 2021/22

Whispering Stories would like to say a big congratulations to Poets Dzifa Benson, Jamie Hale, and Romalyn Ante who have been selected as the winners of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellows for 2021/22.

jerwood-arts-black@2x Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship 2021/22

What is Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships?

The Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships are a six-year initiative supporting poets in the UK. The programme runs biennially for three editions between 2017 and 2022, creating a total of nine Fellows.

Each receives a bursary of £15,000 and mentoring support. The Fellowships invest in the process and practice of making poetry, with no expectations of published work or performed events as a result of the award, and support individuals whose practice encompasses poetry in the broadest artistic sense. Poets are matched with a core mentor and have further access to a range of advisers and ‘critical friends’ to support their developing practice.

The new Fellows will now join the six previous Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellows – Raymond Antrobus, Jane Commane, Jackie Hagan, Yomi Ṣode, Hafsah Aneela Bashir and Anthony Joseph – who have shown how transformative a supported year can be.

Without setting limits or expectations, the Fellowship has enabled the careers of previous Fellows to flourish. Each Fellow has significantly developed their practice, and themselves, through the support of the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships.

The Jerwood Compton Fellowships are designed and managed by Jerwood Arts, with support from Arts Council England including funds from the Joseph Compton bequest.

You can find out more at – Twitter @JerwoodartsInstagram and Facebook. Plus via their website –

Let’s meet the Poets

Dzifa Benson_Portrait_Image Credit Kaya La Bonte-Hurst Winners announced for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship

Dzifa Benson is a multi-disciplinary artist whose work intersects science, art, the body and ritual, which she explores through poetry, prose, theatre-making, performance, essays and criticism. She has performed nationally and internationally for Tate Britain, the Courtauld Institute of Art, BBC Africa Beyond and more, and she abridged the National Youth Theatre’s 2021 production of Othello in collaboration with Olivier award-winning director Miranda Cromwell. Follow Dzifa on Twitter @DzifaBenson

We have one of Dzifa Benson’s poems to share with you titled:-
For the Love of Hendrik de Jongh, Drummer from Batavia

In the beginning,
he was my lord
of the 6 weeks.
When !Kaub showed
the dark side of his face
again, I had to slough off
my lover’s name.

You are on the other side of the water.
Here, my forehead touches only air.
I map the radiant places of your body
the seams of my skin brittle and ablaze.

Even when the rise and fall of our ribcages insist
we are still here, I try to live above the flood.
I breathe you in. You breathe me out. The world,
in rain-wind and dilate-sun, leans in to learn
which way to carve the howling sweep of years.

You asked: What parts of you are unknown to me?
I answered: This too muchness of self in its not enoughness.

Day empties through us as a Cape sugarbird sparkles thinly
in the shadows.
You let me follow you into your dreams. Vast night looks in,
leads us by a nose of buchu into its fluid corners on the //Stars Road.
Our eyes don’t close.
I want to bury the chameleon of this love in a secret place
of nerve and sinew
while we wait for the mantis to sing the !Great Hunger to sleep.

If I arrived at your voice again would it fatten
into a new kind of passing time,
pour down my back into this thousand years
hollow of my spine? Your memory breathes
warmth over my skin. My body catches it
like when our astonished spirits
were every crashing leaf on every tree,
when our hallowed hands cupped
soft curving and fingered lean meat.

You never left. We endured. I was still denied.

My I was him.
In order to live
I had to use
the knife
between us.

Jamie Hale_Portrait_Credit CN Lester Winners announced for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship

Jamie Hale is a poet, script/screenwriter and essayist based in London, whose work often explores the disabled body, nature, and mortality. Their pamphlet, Shield – about disability, treatment prioritisation, and the COVID-19 pandemic was published in January 2020. Their solo poetry show, NOT DYING, was performed at the Lyric Hammersmith and Barbican Centre in 2019, and the filmed version has screened nationally and internationally since. Jamie is also the founder of CRIPtic Arts, an organisation showcasing and developing work by and for d/Deaf and disabled creatives. Follow Jamie on Twitter @jamierhale

Romalyn Ante_Portrait_Credit Kaya La Bonte-Hurst

Romalyn Ante is an award-winning Filipino-born, Wolverhampton-based poet, translator, editor and essayist. She is co-founding editor of harana poetry, an online magazine for poets writing in English as a second or parallel language, and her accolades include the Poetry London Prize, Manchester Poetry Prize, Society of Author’s Foundation Award, Developing Your Creative Practice, Creative Future Literary Award, amongst others. Apart from being a writer, she also works full-time as a nurse practitioner, specializing in providing different psychotherapeutic treatments. Follow Romalyn on Twitter @RomalynAnte

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