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Selima Hill win’s King’s Medal for Poetry!

Along with so many people I am so delighted that Simon Armitage recommended Selima Hill  for the first King’s Medal for Poetry

I have been extraordinarily lucky to have been in snail-mail correspondence with Selima, since January 2021.

I have kept every card and letter

She is an extraordinary woman and an extraordinary poet


She was looking for a publisher for a joint venture with artist Tim Nicholson (nephew of Ben).

She then sent me the poems for Susan. And over the months she sent me more and I kept saying yes I would love to publish them until we had 5 pamphlets planned.

I was feeling a little uneasy about how and when to publish them when a letter arrived from her saying I don’t know why I am telling you this but I have found 7 other sequences I have completed.

And immediately it all made sense – to publish those 7 too, and publish a pamphlet a month by Selima Hill through 2022.

She had kept apologising for her prolificity (I believe I made that word up) – but I thought it would be a wonderful thing to celebrate.

I am not sure if any poet has ever had a pamphlet published for 12 consecutive months by the same publisher before – but this is the smallest of her achievements.

If you haven’t ever read any of her work I thoroughly recommend it. No poetry touches me the same way, reaches deep into my psyche…

And Neil Astley and Bloodaxe Books deserve the hugest of congratulations. She is not the easiest person to work with because she does not engage with email or telephone so the process of publishing is thrown back a century or so!

I have never met her, and never will, but I bloody love her soul and heart, and her coloured pens and above all her words. I have never felt so happy or proud of anyone before

You can read about her 12 pamphlets here.
From Angel to Zebu here.
Her collections published by Bloodaxe Books here.
And below is the recent article in The Telegraph about her:


By Victoria Ward,​ ​ROYAL CORRESPONDENT 14 January 2023 • 12:01am
King Charles awards first poetry medal to mental health and family conflict author
The Gold Medal for Poetry was given to ‘inimitable talent’ Selima Hill, a London-born poet known for tackling ‘difficult’ subject matters
The King has chosen to award his first Gold Medal for Poetry to an author whose work covers family conflict and mental health.
Selima Hill was described as an “inimitable talent” by Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, who chairs the Poetry Medal Committee.
The award is the first Gold Medal for Poetry presented in the King’s name since the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September.
Hill, 77, published her first book of poems, Saying Hello At The Station, in 1984 and has gone on to publish 19 further collections.
The London-born poet is known for tackling “difficult” subject matters, such as mental illness and sexual abuse, often exploring family conflict and female vulnerability.
She is famed for juxtaposing seemingly opposing objects. Among her most popular poems is Please Can I Have a Man, which imagines the ideal man “who knows the names of 100 different roses… who walks like Belmondo in A Bout de Souffle”.
Her work has prompted comparisons with poets including Sylvia Plath and Stevie Smith.
Hill, who lives in a coastal cabin in Dorset, said last year that she wrote “more or less non-stop.” She added: “If I am not writing something I feel bereft, like a teabag without water!”
“Life in general might be said to be her subject, the complications, contradictions and consequences of simply existing. Nevertheless, Hill’s writing is eminently readable and approachable, even fun at times, the voice of a person and a poet who will not be quieted and will not conform to expectations, especially poetic ones.”
The Gold Medal for Poetry was founded by King George V in 1933 and has previously been won by British and Commonwealth poets including Siegfried Sassoon, John Betjeman, WH Auden, Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes.
During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign, the award was known as The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. It was most recently won by Grace Nichols, a Commonwealth writer who has spoken of celebrating her Caribbean heritage along with the “English traditions we inherited as a former British colony”.
Hill is likely to be presented with the award by the King at Buckingham Palace at a later date.
The Telegraph’s poetry critic Tristram Fane Saunders said: “I’m thrilled to see this medal go to Hill, one of the most distinctive voices in English poetry.
“Her sharp, funny, unsettling poems could never be mistaken for anyone else’s work. This is not a lifetime achievement award for an old poet resting on her laurels.
“At 77, Hill is writing faster than ever, publishing a new pamphlet every single month in 2022 with the terrific small press Fair Acre. She’s beloved by today’s young writers, but not as well-known among the general public as she deserves to be. I hope this award will change that.”
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