The London Magazine Poetry Prize 2023 awards first place to Robert Hamberger, for his poem ‘Funny Girl’, as part of its annual competition.

Congratulations also go to the second and third prize winners Kathryn Bevis and Jamie Cameron.

Judge, James Conor Patterson, remarked on the winning poem: “‘Funny Girl’ is one of those poems that dazzles with its multifacetedness… this is a life-affirming and important piece of work which no doubt will continue to reward its readers in the months and years to come.”

Robert Hamberger (pictured) wins TLM Poetry Prize

Robert Hamberger told us about the origin of the poem: “‘Funny Girl’ was initially drafted in 2018 at Mary Jean Chan’s online Queer Studio course for the Poetry School. I kept tinkering with it over the next few years to get it right, and my final revisions were made on 24th February following incredibly helpful feedback that same day from the poet Catherine Smith – so I entered it on the closing day of the competition. It felt like the poem was wiser than me as to exactly when it was ready to be finished.”

Submissions were read anonymously by the panel of judges, Joelle Taylor, James Conor Patterson and Maya Popa. We received the highest volume of entries in the prize’s history and competition was fierce. So thank you to everyone who took the time to enter the competition, for contributing such quality work, and in doing so, raising the bar for us all yet again.

Joelle Taylor commented on the shortlist: “It was a privilege to read a set of poems so cinematic, visceral and wide thinking. The top 3 poems are a microcosm of the diverse styles and attitudes within contemporary poetry, examining the natural and unnatural worlds with equal alacrity. The body shape shifts, the river squeezes into a tight skirt, God picks up a prayer and no one is on the other end. Pushing language and reality, the three winners are a vivid representation of all that poetry can do, and everything it wants.’

The full list of winners, celebrated for their poems, includes:

  • First place: ‘Funny Girl’ by Robert Hamberger
  • Second place: ‘Song o’ the River Itchen’ by Kathryn Bevis
  • Third place: Playing God’ by Jamie Cameron

As well as receiving prizes of £500, £300 and £200 respectively, the winners are to be published in upcoming issues of The London Magazine.

The full shortlist is as follows: ‘Gone Things’ by Lianne O’Hara, ‘To Know Grief’ by Alice Frecknall, ‘The Deer’ by Dominic Leonard, ‘Funny Girl’ by Robert Hamberger, ‘Interior with Girl Reading’ by Grace Wilentz, ‘Witching Hour’ by C.P. Nield, ‘Bakelite’ by Sharon Black, ‘In Memory of My People’ by Joe Carrick-Varty, ‘Unleft’ by ‘Phillip Crymble’,  ‘Stood Up’ by Emily Cooper, ‘Playing God’ by Jamie Cameron, ‘Song o’ the River Itchen’ by Kathryn Bevis, ‘Sea Lion Woman Comes On Land, Swims in Pool and Steals Man’s Chair Lane’ by Lucy Holme and ‘The Dead Regard Their First Their Longest Loss’ by Niamh Mac Cabe.

The London Magazine has been home to some of the most prestigious poets in its long publishing history, from John Keats to Sylvia Plath and Derek Walcott. Our annual Poetry Prize seeks out new voices in poetry, providing a platform for publication in the UK’s oldest literary journal.

For a chance to win up to £500, keep an eye out for The London Magazine Short Story Prize, which is to open for submissions in the next summer. Follow us on TwitterFacebook and Instagram for the latest announcements.

To discover more content exclusive to our print and digital editions, subscribe here to receive a copy of The London Magazine to your door every two months, while also enjoying full access to our extensive digital archive of essays, literary journalism, fiction and poetry. 

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