Eidolon by Sandeep Parmar has today been announced as the winner of the inaugural £5000 Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize the UK’s first prize dedicated to second poetry collections. Published by independent press Shearsman, Sandeep Parmar’s Eidolon is partly a modern revision of the Helen myth, which meditates on the visible and invisible forces of Western civilization from classical antiquity to present-day America.
The winning collection was chosen by judges Vahni Capdeilo and Tara Bergin and announced at a special event on the first day of the 21st Ledbury Poetry Festival. Selected from a shortlist of six titles, Vahni Capildeo and Tara Bergin say 'Sandeep Parmar's Eidolon rises slightly above the rest in its combination of intimacy and sweep. The language is sharp and contemporary, but also very gentle in places, and lyrical. There are lines which seem to reach far back (to Whitman and Shakespeare and Sappho, and of course to the book's basis in the Helen of Troy myths), and there are other sections which use the stilted language of contemporary reports and news and snatches of conversation. A strange and compelling mix.'
Sandeep Parmar is Senior Lecturer in twentieth-century literature and creative writing at the University of Liverpool, the Reviews Editor of The Wolf magazine and author of a critical book on Loy, Reading Mina Loy's Autobiographies.
On winning the Prize, Parmar says 'I'm very grateful to the judges and the festivalfor awarding Eidolon the Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize. For me, writing a second poetry collection was liberating - I felt able to strike new ground and it took shape much more quickly than my first book. Eidolon is a conversation with the recent and remote past as well as the authors who shaped my thinking: Hilda Doolittle, C.D. Wright, Rachida Madani, Whitman, Euripides, among others.'
When Eidolon was published by Shearsman in January 2015, poet Valzhyna said in Poetry International that the collection reflected the work of ‘a stunning poet arguing with the failing authority of her culture, the whole Silk Road curled up and hissing by her feet’. The Ledbury Forte Poetry Prize is a biennial prize which responds to poetry’s increasing emphasis on debuts and seeks to shine a light on poets’ more accomplished, though often overlooked second collections, which can be poetry’s version of ‘the difficult second album’.
The Ledbury Forte Prize was launched in 2017 to mark the 21st anniversary of the UK’s biggest poetry festival, Ledbury Poetry Festival, which takes place between 30 June – 9 July this year.