Grace Nichols’ ‘pioneering voice’ wins Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry | Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry

Guyanese poet Grace Nichols will receive the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry for her body of work, in particular her debut collection of poetry I Is a Long-Memoried Woman, her prose and several books for young readers.

Buckingham Palace announced on Friday that the Queen had approved the choice recommended by the Poetry Medal Committee, chaired by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage.

“Over the past four decades, Grace has been an original and pioneering voice on the British poetry scene,” said Armitage. “His poems are alive with characters from the folklore and fables of his Caribbean homeland, and echo the rhymes and rhythms of his family and ancestors…They are also at times passionate and sensual, daring in their choice of subject matter. and open in their outlook.”

“Above all, Grace Nichols was a beacon for black women poets in this country, staying true to her linguistic coordinates and poetic sensibility, and providing a medium that inspired and encouraged many.”

Nichols, who moved to Britain aged 27, will become the 52nd recipient of the award and the second in her own home – her husband John Agard won it in 2012. She is expected to receive the medal in 2022.

Nichols’ poetry, much of which is influenced by his Caribbean heritage, features on several GCSE curricula. I Is a Long-Memoried Woman won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize in 1983.

“I was devastated when I first heard the news. It was both wonderful and humbling to be recognized in this way,” Nichols said. “As a poet, you write your poems in solitude, never knowing who they will reach.I feel so honored and thrilled to receive this award from Her Majesty and the committee.

She added: “In my own work, I have celebrated my Guyanese/Caribbean/South American heritage in relation to the English traditions we inherited as a former British colony. To poetry and the English language that I love, I brought the registers of my own West Indian language. I would like my parents, who reproach me for straining my eyes, as a little girl reading by torchlight in her bed, to be there to share this journey whose poetry has blessed me.

The Gold Medal for Poetry was founded in 1933 by King George V. Previous recipients include Philip Larkin, Siegfried Sassoon and WH Auden, as well as last year’s winner David Constantine, who received the queen’s price by videoconference.

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