Alycia Pirmohamed Wins the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2020

In an online event at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this afternoon The Edwin Morgan Trust announced the winner of the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award 2020. 

With a prize of £20,000, the biennial Edwin Morgan Poetry Award is one of the largest in the UK. Never forgetting his difficulties in his early years as a poet, Scotland’s first modern Makar (national poet) wanted to lend a helping hand to promising poets at what can be a discouraging period in their career.

The 2020 winner is Alycia Pirmohamed, who has recently completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh and is co-founder of the Scottish BAME Writers Network.  Her second pamphlet, Hinge (ignition press) is due out next month and is this season’s Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice.

Her award was announced in an event on the opening day of the 2020 Online Edinburgh International Book Festival with a live recording of Alycia’s astonished and delighted reaction to the news.

Alycia said “Winning the Edwin Morgan Poetry Award is such a surreal and amazing experience. I’m so honoured that the judges, Kathleen Jamie and John Glenday, selected my work, and I’m extremely grateful to everyone who has ever read and supported it along the way. It means a lot to have found a poetry community in Scotland, because I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about where and how I fit in. I’m beyond excited to continue my journey as an artist long into the future!”

This year’s judges remarked that her collection The Ghosts that Visit Us as We Dream “stood out immediately, not only because the work is so compelling but because it seemed to be opening up a new front in Scottish poetry […]  these varied, tender poems respond to Alycia's experience of her cultural background; their lovely specific imagery and exciting diction arises from places as diverse as Dar Es Salaam, Saskatchewan and Scotland. She controls vibrant language with a formal precision and focus, creating an original and illuminating world.”

The runner-up, who receives £2,500, was Colin Bramwell, with his collection Jigsaw. The judges said “the poet's concern is with the mysterious, interlocking dynamics of life itself. Colin Bramwell manages to combine attention to craft with a love of language and a delightfully irreverent humour.”

The five other shortlisted poets – Michael Grieve, Kirsten Kerr, David Linklater, Paul Malgrati and Stewart Sanderson – each receive £1,000.

Professor David Kinloch, poet and Chair of the Edwin Morgan Trust, said, “It is not surprising how many of us have turned recently – as so often before in moments of crisis – to the healing and invigorating space of poetry. The health crisis has displaced many of the more conventional celebrations planned to mark Morgan’s centenary but he would not have been disappointed if it means that the focus on poetry itself – his poetry and that of the young poets on the shortlist  – is intensified.”

The Edinburgh International Book Festival online continues until Monday 31 August with over 140 events across the programme, all of which can be viewed, free of charge, through the website


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