'A poet who will not conform to expectations': Selima Hill wins King's Gold Medal for Poetry
Selima Hill has been awarded the King’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Buckingham Palace has announced. A committee chaired by the poet laureate Simon Armitage recommended her as the 2022 recipient on the basis of her body of work, and for what continues to be a flourishing and strengthening creativity, with special recognition for her retrospective Gloria: Selected Poems, published by Bloodaxe in 2008. This brings together work from her first 10 collections, including her Whitbread Poetry award-winning Bunny. She has since published nine further collections, with her 21st book of poetry, Women in Comfortable Shoes, forthcoming from Bloodaxe in June 2023.
Simon Armitage said: “Selima Hill is an inimitable talent. The mind is fragile and unreliable in her poetry, but is also tenacious and surprising, capable of the most extraordinary responses, always fighting back with language as its survival kit. Life in general might be said to be her subject, the complications, contradictions and consequences of simply existing. Nevertheless, Hill’s writing is eminently readable and approachable, even fun at times, the voice of a person and a poet who will not be quieted and will not conform to expectations, especially poetic ones.”
Selima Hill’s poetry has been pared down over the years, and is now often characterised by sequences of short observational poems employing vivid and sometimes absurdist imagery. Her most recent collection, Men Who Feed Pigeons, was shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Collection, the 2021 TS Eliot Prize and the Rathbones Folio Prize 2022. She grew up in a family of painters in farms in England and Wales, and has lived in Dorset for the past 40 years.
PHOTOGRAPH: BLOODAXE BOOKS