Image: Maggie Sawkins receives her cheque from poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy
Zones of Avoidance is a multimedia live literature production written and performed by Maggie Sawkins and directed by Mark C Hewitt with video sequences by artist Abigail Norris. Sawkins describes it as ‘A Word Dance into the Void of Addiction’. The narrator’s quest is to discover the lure of psychoactive substances following her daughter’s descent into addiction. This multi-media live literature production captures the surreal mundanity of living with addiction and combines the poet’s moving testimony with the voices of addicts in recovery. Zones of Avoidance was first performed as part of Portsmouth Bookfest in October 2013.
Judge Denise Riley said of the winning piece:
"This is an ambitious multimedia presentation using film, voices and sound, which works exceptionally well. It is a challenging, painfully open account of a daughter's addiction, yet it's an account which also offers graceful good humour. Beautifully written and uncompromising, it's a modern story that we felt the writer was compelled to tell; it acts as a vivid witness of harsh experiences which aren't often described in poetry, and Maggie Sawkins' illuminating descriptions will prove helpful for others to hear."
The judges considered work in a wide variety of forms for the award – from radio-plays and installations to books and sound works – including a number of interdisciplinary collaborations. They selected a shortlist of five, including Maggie Sawkins: Steve Ely, Chris McCabe, Hannah Silva and Zoë Skoulding.
Maggie Sawkins has written poetry since she was a child. Her two poetry collections are Charcot’s Pet (Flarestack, 2003) and The Zig Zag Woman (Two Ravens Press, 2007). Maggie works with people in recovery from addiction, and teaches students with specific learning difficulties at South Downs College, near Portsmouth. In 2003 she founded Tongues&Grooves Poetry and Music Club. Last year she represented Portsmouth on the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize 20th Anniversary Tour.
Click here to read more.
Steve Ely for Oswald’s Book of Hours
Chris McCabe for Pharmapoetica
Maggie Sawkins for Zones of Avoidance
Hannah Silva for Total Man
Zoë Skoulding for The Museum of Disappearing Sounds
Click here to read more about the shortlist.
Sean Borodale was Northern Arts Fellow of the Wordsworth Trust in 1999 and Guest Artist at the Rijksakademie, Amsterdam in 2002. From 2002-7 he was a teaching fellow at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL. His long topographical work Notes for an Atlas was recommended by Robert Macfarlane in the Guardian Summer Books 2005. It was performed in 2007 at the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall, directed by Mark Rylance, as part of the first London Festival of Literature. Recent projects include Grey Matter with artist Jonathan Houlding which included a residency at the Fundacion Pilar i Joan Miro, Mallorca, 2009. Bee Journal, his debut full-length collection of poems was published by Jonathan Cape in 2012. He was selected as a Granta New Poet in 2012 and was recently shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Costa Book Award.
Painter and printmaker Eileen Cooper RA studied at Goldsmith’s College and Royal College of Art, London. She was appointed Keeper of the Royal Academy Schools in 2011, the first female officer of the RA since it was founded in 1768. She has had solo exhibitions at Air Gallery, Benjamin Rhodes Gallery and the Dulwich Picture Gallery (all London); Castlefield Gallery, Manchester; Artsite, Bath; and Glasgow Print Studio. Eileen Cooper at 50 was shown at Art First in London and New York. Her work has featured in many group and international touring exhibitions including: The New British Painting; The Outsider: British Figuration Now; Picturing People and Innocence and Experience. She has been represented by Art First since 1997 (Image credit: Anne Purkiss)
Denise Riley has a background in both poetry and academia. She is currently Professor of Poetry and the History of Ideas at the University of East Anglia. Riley’s many collections of poetry include Penguin Modern Poets 10 (with Douglas Oliver and Ian Sinclair), and Denise Riley: Selected Poems. She edited Poets on Writing; Britain 1970-1991. Her recent work studies philosophies of selfpresence, the neurophenomenology of selfawareness, and the history of understandings of inner speech and how these enter into our ideas of what’s interior and what’s outside. Her long poem sequence ‘A Part Song’ won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem, and was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award (both 2012). (Image credit: Kevin Lake)
“In order to thrive, poetry must always be open to the world it inhabits. This means that it’s vital for poets to engage with other art forms. A poet can learn as much about their craft from closely examining the work of other artists as they can from poetry itself.”
Sarah Maguire, judge of The Ted Hughes Award 2011.
Are you a poet? Are you planning some exciting new work in 2014? Let us know.
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The shortlist for the Ted Hughes Award 2011 has now been announced.
THA 2010 winner, Kaite O'Reilly, has been in touch to tell us about a new project, The Echo Chamber. This new performance from The Llanarth Group interweaves movement, text, and sound to explore “elemental” human matters. See Kaite's website for more info.