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Mimi Khalvati to be Awarded the King's Gold Medal for Poetry 2023

Thursday, 25 Jan 2024

Mimi Khalvati We’re thrilled to announce that Mimi Khalvati will be awarded the King’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2023!

The Gold Medal for Poetry was established by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield, and is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award. Each year's recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth realm.

The Poetry Medal Committee, chaired by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, recommended Mimi Khalvati as the recipient of the Medal for 2023 due to her outstanding talent and ability to draw on diverse cultural traditions - Iranian, English and American - to enrich British poetry.

Mimi Khalvati's initial publications Persian Miniatures (1990) was a joint winner of the Poetry Business prize and In White Ink (1991) revealed her outstanding talent and highly individual voice. Since then, Khalvati has published nine thematically and formally varied collections of poetry. Many have won accolades from the Poetry Book Society with The Meanest Flower shortlisted for the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize. Mimi Khalvati also has a Cholmondeley Award and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

On receiving the award, Mimi Khalvati said: 'When I first received news of my award, I felt amazed, incredulous, thrilled and not a little terrified. But more than that, I just felt happy. To receive such an affirmation of my work and to be numbered among the wonderful poets who have been previous recipients is an honour and privilege I am deeply grateful for. My warmest thanks go to Simon Armitage, our Poet Laureate, and the committee, for reading and responding to my poetry, and for their recommendation.

'I started writing late in life and have always felt myself to be serving an unending apprenticeship, steeped in the process of becoming a poet, and never actually being one. But now, in my eightieth year, I am! And through my writing years I have been lucky enough to see many barriers of gender, age, ethnicity, fall, and to be welcomed into a community of poets, many of whom I have worked with, shared poems with and learned from. Having lost ties to my country, Iran, but finding a home in English poetry, often universal in outlook and excitingly porous to other cultures, has been made all the more precious to me by this generous recognition.'

In praise of Mimi, Simon Armitage said: 'Since the early 'nineties Mimi Khalvati has been a pioneering and adventurous voice in the mainstream of British poetry, bridging cultural and linguistic traditions between her native Iranian heritage and the country where she came to live. Endlessly imaginative and playful, her work weaves social and political concerns with personal history and private experience. She is a highly-respected teacher and supporter of new writers, especially of women poets who have been inspired by her example, her natural talent and her encouragement. Mimi receives the King's Gold Medal for Poetry in respect of a body of published work that includes eight outstanding full-length collections, and in recognition of her tireless work as a tutor and as one of the founding members of The Poetry School.'

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