Keats-Shelley Prize 2017

Prize Winners

The winners of 2017’s Keats-Shelley Prizes were announced by the Prize Chair, Baroness Floella Benjamin, at the Royal Society of Antiquaries on 24th April.

The evening was introduced by Rt Hon Matt Hancock, MP, Minister for Culture and Digital Culture, and concluded with a reading by Sir Bob Geldof of two sonnets by John Keats, On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer and To One Who Has Long Been in City Pent.

The winner of 2017’s Keats-Shelley Adult Essay Prize is Hester Styles Vickery with Keats and Consumption (£1000). A graduate of Lincoln College, Oxford, Hester plans to study an MA in Modern Literature at University College London next year.

The runner up is John Greenfield with On Jane Campion’s Bright Star: The Disputed Biographies of John Keats and Fanny Brawne (£500). John Greenfield is a Professor of English at McKendree University, Illinois.

In third place is James Tinsley with The Polar Sublime. The winner of 2017’s Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize is Cahal Dallat for Giant (£1000). Born in County Antrim, Cahal has won the Strokestown International Poetry Competition. He is currently the Causley Trust’s centenary-year musician and poet-in-residence at Cyprus Well House in Cornall. His writing has appeared in the TLS and the Guardian. His latest collection is The Year of Not Dancing (Blackstaff).

Second prize went to DH Maitreyabandhu, who won the Prize in 2009, with One Hundred Cloche Hats (£500).

Poetry First Prize Winner

Cahal Dallat, Giant

Poetry Second Prize Winner

DH Maitreyabandhu, One Hundred Cloche Hats

Essay Prize Winner

Hester Styles Vickery, Keats and Consumption

Essay Second Prize Winner

John Greenfield, On Jane Campion’s ‘Bright Star’: The Disputed Biographies of John Keats and Fanny Brawne

James Tinsley, The Polar Sublime


Poetry Shortlist

Maria Isakova Bennett, St George’s Garden, Lime St cloud_downloadRead Poem

Maria Isakova Bennett lives and works in Liverpool. Over the past three years, her poetry has been selected by Clare Pollard as winner of the Ver Open Poetry competition, has been highly commended in the Gregory O’ Donoghue and Munster Literature Chapbook Competitions, and appeared in Eyewear’s anthology of The Best New British and Irish Poets. Maria’s work has also been shortlisted in several poetry competitions including Bridport, Wigtown and Mslexia. Maria delivers readings with fellow poet Michael Brown, and runs workshops in art galleries on Merseyside.

Rachel Burns, The Dolls cloud_downloadRead Poem

Rachel Burns is a poet and playwright living in Durham. Her poetry has been published widely in UK literary magazines. She won 2nd place in The Writers’ & Artists’ sonnet competition judged by Ruth Padel.

Matt Bryden, Supporting Actor cloud_downloadRead Poem

Matt Bryden is a teacher and writer living in Somerset. He runs the Somerset Young Poets Competition and is creator of the Poetry Map, a free online teaching resource.

Kirsten Irving, Kase-Obake cloud_downloadRead Poem

Kirsten Irving is a poet and freelance writer based in London. She is co-editor of the collaborative poetry press Sidekick Books, and has edited more than 10 anthologies. Her work has been published by Salt and Happenstance, translated into Russian and thrown out of a helicopter. Projects in the pipes involve crow language, erotic monsters, yokai and Battle Royale.

Claire Potter, Ex-Voto cloud_downloadRead Poem

Claire Potter’s first collection, Swallow (Five Islands Press, Melbourne) was shortlisted for numerous Premier’s Literary Awards in Australia and she has published two chapbooks. Her recent poems have appeared in Poetry Review Ireland and Poetry (Chicago). She is currently working on her second collection.

Roger Vickery, Free Tickets to a Mamet cloud_downloadRead Poem

Roger Vickery is an Australian writer of poetry, short stories and plays. He has won over 70 literary awards. He was a finalist in the 2015 International Fish Poetry Prize and shortlisted for the 2016 Bath Flash Fiction Award. His play A Nest of Skunks (co-authored with James Balian) enjoyed a highly successful Sydney season in 2016.

Charlotte Walker, Projection cloud_downloadRead Poem

Charlotte Walker is a writer, translator and illustrator who grew up in Yorkshire and recently moved back there from France. She is currently a resident artist of the Arts Charity at Dean Clough, where she is producing her first book of poems. She is also completing illustrations for a book for the Causley Trust centenary celebrations in Cornwall. In 2016 she was writer and artist-in-residence at Charles Causley’s house, Cyprus Well.

Jackie Wills, Veve’s Invitation cloud_downloadRead Poem

Jackie Wills has published five collections of poetry; her most recent is Woman’s Head as Jug (Arc, 2013). She has been a professional writer for 40 years and lives in Brighton.

Judges Comments

Essay Shortlist

Judges Comments


  • Chair of Judges

    Baroness Floella Benjamin
  • Poetry Judges

    Mathew Sweeney

    The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association was deeply saddened by the death of Matthew Sweeney, the acclaimed Irish poet and since 1999 a Poetry Judge for the Keats-Shelley Prize. Read our own appreciation: here.

    Matthew was born in County Donegal. His work has appeared in the New Yorker and the London Review of Books among others. His collections include: A Dream of Maps (1981), Blue Shoes (1989), Cacti (1992), The Bridal Suite (1997), A Smell of Fish (2000), Selected Poems (2002), Black Moon (2007), The Night Post: A New Selection (2010), and Inquisition Lane (Bloodaxe Books 2015). He is the winner of many poetry awards including the Cholmondley Award, the Arts Council Award and in 2014 the Piggott Poetry Prize. He has worked as Poet in Residence at the University of East Anglia and the South Bank and elsewhere.

  • Professor Jo Shapcott

    Professor Jo Shapcott, FRSL joined us as Poet Judge in 2017. She has won numerous awards including the National Poetry Competition (twice), the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (2011). She teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.

    Her books include Poems 1988-1998 (2000, reprinted 2006) consisting of poetry from her three earlier collections: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). Together with Matthew Sweeney, she edited Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (1996), an international anthology of contemporary poetry in English. Her book Tender Taxes, “her version of Rilke” was published in 2002. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award.

  • Essay Judges

    Professor Sharon Ruston

    Professor Sharon Ruston is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. She is Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, having previously taught at Bangor, Keele and Salford.

    Her research specialism concerns the relations between the literature, science and medicine of the Romantic period, 1780-1820. Her first book, Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley’s concept of vitality in his major poetry. Since then, she has worked on Mary Wollstonecraft’s interest in natural history, William Godwin’s interest in mesmerism, and Humphry Davy’s writings on the sublime. These form chapters of her most recent book, Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science, and Medicine of the 1790s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).

    In 2020, Sharon published (with Tim Fulford) the four volume Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle with Oxford University Press. Read a Q&A with Sharon and Professor Fulford at the BARS Blog.

    Visit Sharon’s profile page at the University of Lancaster here.

  • Professor Simon Bainbridge

    Professor Simon Bainbridge is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. He teaches and writes at the University of Lancaster.

    His main research interest is in the relationship between the writing of the Romantic period and its historical context. He is the author of Napoleon and English Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and British Poetry and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Oxford University Press, 2003) and the editor of Romanticism: A Sourcebook. He has published in journals such as Romanticism, Romanticism on the Net and The Byron Journal and has written essays and entries for An Oxford Companion to The Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832, Romanticism: An Oxford Guide, The Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism, and The Oxford Handbook to English Literature and Theology. Among other current projects he is working on the literature and culture of mountaineering in the Romantic period.

    Visit Simon’s profile page at the University of Lancaster here.