Niall Campbell has won the inaugural Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for Scottish poets aged 30 or under, the largest poetry prize in the UK.
He won the Award with £20,000 prize for his first collection Moontide, published by Bloodaxe. Campbell was announced as winner of the competition at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this evening.
Campbell was born in 1984 on the island of South Uist in the Outer Hebrides, and now lives in Edinburgh.
Moontide was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, and is also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection.
The judges of the Award were poets Stewart Conn and Jen Hadfield. Stewart Conn commented: ‘These poems, with their rich textures, succulent descriptions and seductive cadences reveal a gifted word-smith… [they] transform the sea-bound Uist they celebrate.’ And Jen Hadfield remarked, ‘In lightly framing the unsaid, some of these poems have a haunted quality: they are cat’s cradles between poet and reader.’
The runner-up is Claire Askew for her unpublished collection ‘This changes things’. She receives £1,000 as a shortlisted poet, and a further amount to support her work towards publication. Jen Hadfield said that ‘Askew’s is a humane consciousness, with a genius for communicating how people tick’, while Stewart Conn welcomed a ‘voice that is arrestingly and distinctively her own… words and imagery constantly seeming fresh-minted.’
The other short-listed poets, who each receive £1,000, are: Tom Chivers, Harry Giles, Stewart Sanderson, and Molly Vogel.
On behalf of the Trustees, Professor James McGonigal recalled Edwin Morgan’s basic optimism, his faith in the future, as a poet who ‘always preferred to look forward, not back’: ‘The Edwin Morgan Poetry Award supports a new wave of Scottish poets in practical and positive ways. The quality of work emerging is ample proof that such faith in Scottish poetry was justified.’
Edwin Morgan (1920-2010) was born in Glasgow, and lived there all his life, except for service with the RAMC, and his poetry is grounded in the city. Yet the title of his 1973 collection, From Glasgow to Saturn, suggests the enormous range of Morgan's subject matter. He was Glasgow's first Poet Laureate 1999-2002, and the first to hold the post of 'Scots Makar', created by the Scottish Executive in 2004 to recognise the achievement of Scottish poets.