Baroness Floella Benjamin
Baroness Floella Benjamin Photo

Matthew Sweeney
Matthew Sweeney

Professor Jo Shapcott
Jo Shapcott

Professor Sharon Ruston
Sharon Ruston

Professor Simon Bainbridge
Simon Bainbridge

Keats-Shelley Prize Judges 2017


Chair of Judges

The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association is thrilled to announce that Baroness Floella Benjamin will chair the panel of judges for 2017's Keats-Shelley and Young Romantics Writing Prizes.

Floella Benjamin was born in Trinidad in 1949 and came to England in 1960. She is an actress, presenter, writer, producer, working peer and an active advocate for the welfare and education of children.

She is best known as a presenter of the iconic BBC children's television programmes Play School and Play Away, and she continues to make children's programmes. She appeared in her first film, Black Joy, in 1977. Her West End credits include Jesus Christ Superstar and Black Mikado. In addition to her work on children's television that made her a household name, she has appeared on Bergerac, The Gentle Touch and Angels.  

Her broadcasting work has been recognised with a Special Lifetime Achievement BAFTA and OBE. She was appointed a Baroness in the House of Lords in 2010. In 2012, she was presented with the prestigious J.M. Barrie Award by Action for Children's Arts, for her lasting contribution to children's lives through her art.

Floella has written thirty books, including Coming to England, which is used as a resource in schools in social and cross-curricular areas. The book was adapted into an award-winning film for BBC education. Her 25 books for children include My Two Grannies.

To find out more about Floella's life and career, visit her website: www.floellabenjamin.com



THE PANEL


Poets

Matthew Sweeney is an Irish poet from Donegal, who lives and works in Cork.
His work has appeared in the New Yorker and the London Review of Books among others. His collections include: A Dream of Maps (1981), Blue Shoes (1989), Cacti (1992), The Bridal Suite (1997), A Smell of Fish (2000), Selected Poems (2002), Black Moon (2007), The Night Post: A New Selection (2010), and Inquisition Lane (Bloodaxe Books 2015). He is the winner of many poetry awards including the Cholmondley Award, the Arts Council Award and in 2014 the Piggott Poetry Prize. He has worked as Poet in Residence at the University of East Anglia and the South Bank and elsewhere. Since 1999 he has been Poetry Judge for the Keats-Shelley Prize.

Professor Jo Shapcott, FRSL joined us as Poet Judge last year. She has won numerous awards including the National Poetry Competition (twice), the Commonwealth Poetry Prize, the Forward Poetry Prize, the Cholmondeley Award, and the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry (2011). She teaches on the MA in Creative Writing at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her books include Poems 1988-1998 (2000, reprinted 2006) consisting of poetry from her three earlier collections: Electroplating the Baby (1988), which won the Commonwealth Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, Phrase Book (1992), and My Life Asleep (1998), which won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection). Together with Matthew Sweeney, she edited Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (1996), an international anthology of contemporary poetry in English. Her book Tender Taxes, “her version of Rilke” was published in 2002. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award.


Essays

Professor Sharon Ruston is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. She is Professor of English Literature at the University of Lancaster, having previously taught at Bangor, Keele and Salford. Her research specialism concerns the relations between the literature, science and medicine of the Romantic period, 1780-1820. Her first book, Shelley and Vitality (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), explored the medical and scientific contexts which inform Shelley's concept of vitality in his major poetry. Since then, she has worked on Mary Wollstonecraft's interest in natural history, William Godwin's interest in mesmerism, and Humphry Davy’s writings on the sublime. These form chapters of her most recent book, Creating Romanticism: Case Studies in the Literature, Science, and Medicine of the 1790s (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). Professor Ruston is currently co-editing the Collected Letters of Sir Humphry Davy and his Circle. You can follow her on Twitter: @SharonRuston

Professor Simon Bainbridge is a long-standing Judge of the Prize essays. He teaches and writes at the University of Lancaster. His main research interest is in the relationship between the writing of the Romantic period and its historical context. He is the author of Napoleon and English Romanticism (Cambridge University Press, 1995) and British Poetry and the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars (Oxford University Press, 2003) and the editor of Romanticism: A Sourcebook. He has published in journals such as Romanticism, Romanticism on the Net and The Byron Journal and has written essays and entries for An Oxford Companion to The Romantic Age: British Culture 1776-1832, Romanticism: An Oxford Guide, The Blackwell Companion to European Romanticism, and The Oxford Handbook to English Literature and Theology. Among other current projects he is working on the literature and culture of mountaineering in the Romantic period.