News | Poetry Prize 2021/22: Jay Gao wins first place for his poem ‘Sky Soldier’

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The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2021/21 awards first place to Jay Gao, for his poem ‘Sky Soldier’, as part of its annual competition.

Congratulations also go to the second and third prize winners Isabelle Baafi and Safiya Kinshasa.

Submissions were read anonymously by the panel of judges, Ian Duhig, Mona Arshi and Anthony Anaxagorou. Thank you to everyone who took the time to enter to the competition, for contributing such quality work, and in doing so, raising the bar for us yet again. 

Jay Gao (pictured) wins The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2021/22

Jay Gao is the author of Imperium (2022), forthcoming from Carcanet Press, as well as three poetry pamphlets. He is a Contributing Editor for The White Review, and is studying for an MFA at Brown University. He currently splits his time between Providence, Rhode Island, and Edinburgh, Scotland.

On his winning poem Jay comments: “’Sky Soldier’ belongs to a sequence of poems centred around a mythic space called the Lake. It’s a poem interested in what stories might hide just beneath a liquid surface, in that leaky tension between fact and fiction.”

A few words from Ian Duhig:

“I have judged many poetry competitions and what struck me most about the entrants for The London Magazine’s Poetry Prize this year was how contemporary they were in tone, style and accomplishment. By this I mean in others I have often been looking at work mainly unacquainted with the last half-century of the art’s development, whereas here I was enjoying poets who knew what was going on now, here, and in other parts of the Anglosphere, especially the USA. Despite its rich variety, the judges were able to agree the major prizewinners very quickly: though different, their intensity and panache helped them stand out in a strong field. Congratulations to those, of course, but there were many excellent poems that will stay with me and, to all the entrants, I’d like to say thank you for sharing what was important to you and better luck next time.”

The full list of winners, celebrated for their innovative poetry, includes:

  • First place: ‘Sky Soldier’ by Jay Gao
  • Second place: ‘Turkish Delight’ by Isabelle Baafi
  • Third place: Care for me like you would a leg injury’ by Safiya Kinshasa

As well as receiving prizes of £500, £300 and £200 respectively, the winners are to be published in upcoming issues of The London Magazine. For more information concerning our latest issue, visit our single issues catalogue.

The full shortlist is as follows: ‘The Blue Fountain’ by Nicola Healey, ‘white shirt’ by Catherine Ormell, ‘Your Account in Stark’s Ink Paper’ by Niamh MacCabe, ‘Storm Arwen’ by Zoë Green, ‘Snow Cats and Me’ by Grace Wilentz, ‘Wash’ by Sharon Black, ‘First Love’ by Jelle Cauwenberghs, ‘Saturday at the Canal’ by Kathleen Winter and ‘De Quincey (1821)’ by Niall McDevitt.

The London Magazine has been home to some of the most prestigious poets in its long publishing history, from John Keats to Sylvia Plath and Derek Walcott. Our annual Poetry Prize seeks out new voices in poetry, providing a platform for publication in the UK’s oldest literary journal.

For a chance to win up to £500, keep an eye out for The London Magazine Short Story Prize, which will  open for submissions. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest announcements

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