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Victoria Adukwei Bulley wins Pollard International Poetry Prize


Victoria Adukwei Bulley has been announced as the winner of the 2023 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for her debut book Quiet. The prize was announced at an awards ceremony in Trinity College Dublin on Wed, May 3rd, 2023.

Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s debut poetry collection, Quiet, explores ideas of black interiority, intimacy and selfhood. It was previously shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. A poet, writer and artist, Victoria is currently a doctoral student at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Announcing the 2023 winner, chair of the judging panel, Professor Eoin McNamee, Director of the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre, said: “The judging panel are delighted to be able to announce Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s Quiet as the winner of the John Pollard International Poetry Prize. These poems call out in the quiet, the personal and the political fused, the poet falling through the self and plucking from the air bright marvels, lost and stolen language, defiance, lamentation and beauty.”

This is the fifth year of the prize, which is awarded annually for an outstanding debut collection of poetry in the English language. Valued at €10,000, the prize is sponsored by the John Pollard Foundation and administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre in the School of English at Trinity.

Victoria Adukwei Bulley pictured with members of the judging panel, Professor Eoin McNamee, Alice Lyons and Philip Coleman

Winner Victoria Adukwei Bulley said: “I’m unspeakably honoured that Quiet has been named the 2023 winner of the John Pollard International Poetry Prize. Quiet is a book that thinks about Black interior life but it also considers what it means to gather, to move collectively in steadfast hopeful action across time, across space, through the dark as well as the light. I exist within an ecosystem of makers, thinkers, scholars, and enthusiasts who have in so many ways supported me across the years. Without these people and their brilliance, writing would be a very lonely pursuit. 

‘It takes a village to bring a book into the world and I am in deep gratitude to the individuals who have held this work and myself with such love. I want to name and say thank Kevin Quashie, for his remarkable, tender work, The Sovereignty of Quiet, and too, the brilliant Lynnee Denise for bringing me to it. I want to thank Emma Patterson and Monica MacSwan at Aitken Alexander. Thank you to Lavinia Singer and Matthew Hollis for taking such good care of me at Faber and Faber, to Matthew for seeing even what I could not see in my own words, and to John Freeman at Knopf for being so generous a champion, for so lovingly giving this book new wings and allowing it to fly even further overseas. It is my sheer good fortune to know and work with each of you. 

You never knew what might happen once a book leaves your hands, you simply hope that it will do good work in the world, and that it might find its people – whoever they are. I want to close, then, by extending my heartfelt thanks to the judges, Eoin McNamee, Philip Coleman, Vona Groarke and Alice Lyons for their time with this book. I would also like to thank Stephen Vernon, patron of the prize and for whose grandfather it is named, and Linda Doyle, Provost of Trinity College Dublin, for making this award possible. For all the encouragement this offers, for all the ways that this says keep going, keep writing, truly, thank you.”

Benefactor of the prize, Stephen Vernon, congratulated the winner: “It is a great thrill to have Victoria Adukwei Bulley as the winner of this year’s John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize.  Victoria’s poems are compelling and her voice is unique. I am delighted to add Victoria’s name to our growing list of talented prize-winningpoets.”

Victoria Adukwei Bulley is a poet, writer and artist. An alumna of the Barbican Young Poets and recipient of an Eric Gregory award, Victoria has held residencies in the US, Brazil and the V&A Museum in London. Her debut pamphlet, Girl B, was published by the African Poetry Book Fund in 2017. She is the recipient of a Techne scholarship for doctoral research at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her debut collection, Quiet, was published by Faber in 2022. It was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and won the Rathbones Folio Prize for Poetry.