Polari First Book Prize Longlist Announced
13/07/2012 by Natasha Lavender
The Polari Prize longlist has been announced for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender works of literature
The longlist of the Polari First Book Prize was announced on 11 July in London’s Southbank Centre. The prize rewards exceptional first works - including poetry, non-fiction and fiction - about the LGBT experience. The list includes three self-published works, alongside others from established publishers.
The three self-published works on the list are Claire Ashton’s Pennance, a thriller in which a woman becomes convinced that someone is trying to kill her, Stuart Wakefield’s Body of Water, which draws on Scottish mythology in the story of a young man whose lover dies, and Grrl Alex, by Alex Drummond, a memoir and examination of the transgender lifestyle. Last year’s winner, Autofellatio, was also a self-published memoir, in which author James Maker recalls his extraordinary life as a gay man living in 1970s London.
Memoirs seem to be a popular choice, with two more making the longlist. Ey Up and Away! recounts Vicky Ryder’s life in the West Midlands town of Nuneaton, while in Perking Up the Pansies Jack Scott recalls how he and his partner Liam abandoned their lives as commuters for the lure of Turkey.
The longlist also features poetry collections Modern Love, from Max Wallis (pictured), and The Frost Fairs, by John McCullogh. The first examines love in the modern age, including affairs carried out on social media, while the latter covers subjects ranging from life in the city to science.
The final three nominees are novels based on three very different scenarios. North Morgan’s Exit Through the Wound examines the self-destructive life of Maine Hudson, a man with a grudge against the world. In Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald, David Starr has been cast as Nancy in the school production of Oliver!, and is determined to give it his all, even finding true love along the way. Set in a Hampstead Heath mansion, Rory’s Boys is the story of Rory Blaine, who transforms his grandmother’s house into the first retirement home exclusively for gay men.
Despite all being grounded in LGBT experience, the nominations cover a vast range of tones, topics and stories. Chair judge Paul Burston praised “the diversity of LGBT literary voices” apparent in the longlist. The shortlist will be announced in September with the winner receiving their award, which this year includes £1000, at Polari’s 5th Birthday celebrations on Monday 26th November.