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Claudine Toutoungi Shortlisted for Ledbury Prize

Monday, 4 Oct 2021

No Text Huge congratulations to Claudine Toutoungi, who has been shortlisted for the Ledbury Munthe Poetry Prize for Second Collections with her collection Two Tongues!

The full shortlist is:

Horse-Man by Em Strang (Shearsman Books)

melt by Sarah Hymas (Waterloo Press)

After the Formalities by Anthony Anaxagorou (Penned in the Margins)

Two Tongues by Claudine Toutoungi (Carcanet Press)

Tigress by Jessica Mookherjee (Nine Arches Press)

The Million-Petalled Flower of Being Here by Vidyan Ravinthiran (Bloodaxe Books)

Love Minus Love by Wayne Holloway-Smith (Bloodaxe Books)

Naomi Shihab Nye says, “These second collections of poetry by poets of such widely variant backgrounds and styles are each original, ambitious, and deeply compelling. It’s been striking how strong each book is – a difficult challenge for a judge, but what the American poet William Stafford might have called "a happy problem."

Sandeep Parmar says, “Reading across a range of second collections–some book-length poems, others an array of lyrics–what is most striking about the best among these is the will to push beyond the debut, to regroup, take stock, return to the source and mine language harder, adapting the tools in one’s hand or making them anew. As we tracked these voices and observed their journeys further into the world we were drawn to those who took risks and for whom they paid off.”

Ledbury Poetry Festival’s Artistic Director, Chloe Garner says, “Ledbury Poetry Festival is deeply grateful to the Pennington Mellor Munthe Charity Trust for supporting this valued Prize that uniquely celebrates the evolution of a poet’s voice beyond their (often more visible) debut. It can be easier to begin and harder to continue. The goal of this prize, as with so much of Ledbury Poetry Festival’s work, is to nourish and fortify poets so they can grow and flourish.”

 All the shortlisted poets will read at an online event on Tuesday 7 December, when the judges will announce the winner. Reserve free tickets here.

Congratulations again to Claudine, and to all the shortlisted poets!  

No Text Slip-ups, skirmishes and the sidelong glance characterise Claudine Toutoungi's Two Tongues, a surreal and startling second collection that takes on the dislocations and double takes of modern life and weaves from them poems of wit, grit and delicious abandon. In a landscape populated by levitating snailfish, sotto voce therapists, melancholic kittiwakes and collapsing stage sets, boundaries blur, languages merge, vision is partial and identity nothing but fluid. Misdirected medical reminders, discarded letters, crossed wires and linguistic mash-ups proliferate as the urban and natural worlds collide in an exuberant exploration of confusion - spatial, verbal and psychological. A gallery is overrun with mushrooms, a scientist takes home a fox-cub to nurse, a wild swimmer grapples with sharks and all the while these questing, querulous poems shape-shift from searing to soulful to droll to defiant, as they confess, cajole, sometimes ponder, occasionally pout and perpetually wrestle with our fractured world.

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