‘Valuable time to write’ – 55 writers share £184,750 in grants for work in progress

Martin Reed

Martin Reed

Martin leads the SoA's Communications team. He oversees our strategic communications and campaign-based activities, including PR, social media, events and partnerships.
Louisa Adjoa Parker, Leo Boix and Rachel Trethewey are among the recipients of our first round of Authors Foundation and K Blundell Trust awards for 2022.

(From left) Louisa Adjoa Parker (photograph Robin Mills), Leo Boix (photograph Naomi Woods) and Rachel Trethewey (photograph Christopher Kiddey)

The Society of Authors has awarded 55 authors with financial grants worth £184,750 in total to support their ongoing projects. The grants are awarded twice a year as part of the Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust to support authors with their ongoing creative work, buying them time to write or help with research costs.

The recipients of the May 2022 round of grants include writer and poet Louisa Adjoa Parker, bilingual Latinx poet Leo Boix and biographer Rachel Trethewey. Their writing projects range from a memoir of ‘intersectional experience of domestic abuse, racism, sexism and life in a low-income family’, to poetry that explores ‘what it means to be a British Latinx gay poet born in Argentina who lives and works in the UK’, to a biography of ‘literary mothers, both biological and intellectual… the mothers of Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Sylvia Plath’.

Author incomes, which are notoriously precarious, are still being impacted by Covid-19, Brexit and economic uncertainty – not to mention the ongoing cost of living and energy crisis. Against this background, grants focused on enabling literary work to continue can offer a rare and valuable relief to authors, helping to ensure that books that might not otherwise have been completed can be read.

The deadline for applications for the next round of grants for work in progress is 1 July 2022, for distribution in October.

Louisa Adjoa Parker

Receiving awards such as this, as well as being an enormous help financially, also boosts my confidence in my work and belief in myself.

I am honoured and incredibly grateful to have been awarded a John Brooks Award from the Society of Authors. The grant will enable me to devote time to finishing my memoir, which will be published in 2023 by Little Toller Books. As a West Country writer of British-Ghanaian heritage, my experience has been an unusual one, and I have faced many challenges in my personal and professional life. Receiving awards such as this, as well as being an enormous help financially, also boosts my confidence in my work and belief in myself.

The memoir is largely about the years I lived in Devon as a Black teenager of mixed heritage. The book explores my intersectional experience of domestic abuse, racism, sexism and life in a low-income family, set against the backdrop of 1980s south Devon, with its terracotta earth and cliffs, beaches and green fields. It is a book about love and relationships – with others and myself – and explores themes of ‘race’, identity, home and belonging, landscape, addiction, motherhood, family and more.

Louisa Adjoa Parker is a writer and poet of English-Ghanaian heritage who lives in south west England. Her first poetry collections were published by Cinnamon Press, and her third, How to wear a skin, was published by Indigo Dreams. Her debut short story collection, Stay with me, was published in 2020 by Colenso Books. Her poetry pamphlet, She can still sing, was published by Flipped Eye in June 2021, and she has a coastal memoir forthcoming with Little Toller Books.

Louisa’s poetry and prose has been widely published. She has been highly commended by the Forward Prize; twice shortlisted by the Bridport Prize; and her grief poem, Kindness, was commended by the National Poetry Competition 2019. She has performed her work in the south west and beyond and has run many writing workshops.

Louisa has written extensively about ethnically diverse history and rural racism, and as well as writing, works as an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion consultant. She is a sought-after speaker and trainer on rural racism, black history, and mental health.

Leo Boix

The Society of Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust grant will allow me valuable time to write, edit and finish my second poetry collection.

My next project, a follow-up to my debut collection Ballad of a Happy Immigrant (Chatto & Windus, 2021), will have at its heart a series of Shakespearean sonnets inspired and informed by all things Latin American. The book will explore, among other themes, what it means to be a British Latinx gay poet born in Argentina who lives and works in the UK, as well as to interrogate multilingualism, cultural translations/mistranslations, and Latinx diasporic experiences. The collection will also look at ideas of misfortune, historical and cultural misrepresentations occasionally through a humorous lens, and might include a series of haikus written during the pandemic. The Society of Authors’ Foundation and K Blundell Trust grant will allow me valuable time to write, edit and finish my second poetry collection, and pay for an Arvon mentoring course that will hopefully push me into new territory.

Leo Boix is a bilingual Latinx poet born in Argentina who lives and works in the UK. His debut English collection Ballad of a Happy Immigrant (Chatto & Windus, 2021) was awarded the PBS Wild Card Choice and was selected as one of the best five books of poetry by The Guardian (August 2021). He has authored a book of translations of Diana Bellessi’s poetry Amar a una mujer/To Love a Woman (Poetry Translation Centre, 2022). Boix has been included in many anthologies, such as Ten: Poets of the New Generation (Bloodaxe), The Best New British and Irish Poets Anthology 2019-2020 (BlackSpring Press), Islands Are But Mountains: Contemporary Poetry from Great Britain (Platypus Press), 100 Poems to Save the Earth (Seren Books), Why I Write Poetry (Nine Arches Press), and Un Nuevo Sol: British Latinx Writers (flipped eye), among others. His poems have appeared in many national and international journals, including POETRY, PN Review, The Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry London, The Manchester Review, The White Review, Ambit, The London Magazine, Asymptote, The Morning Star, The Rialto, Magma Poetry, Letras Libres, Litro Magazine, BathMag, Prism International, Contra journal, The Acentos Review and elsewhere. Boix is a fellow of The Complete Works program, co-director of Un Nuevo Sol, an Arts Council national scheme to nurture new voices of Latinx writers in the UK, a board member of Magma poetry and an advisory board member of the Poetry Translation Centre. He has written poems commissioned by Royal Kew Gardens, the National Poetry Library, Bradford Literary Festival, Un Nuevo Sol and La Linea and Estuary Festivals, among others. He was the recipient of the Bart Wolffe Poetry Prize Award, the Keats-Shelley Prize and an English PEN Award, as well as being awarded The Charles Causley International Poetry Competition 2021 (2nd prize).

Rachel Trethewey

Recipient of the Antonia Fraser Award, for a biography of a woman or women.

It is particularly fitting that it should help fund my project, which is all about literary mothers, both biological and intellectual.

As a biographer who has always seen Antonia Fraser and her mother Lady Longford as my literary role models, I am honoured that my book Mothers of the Mind has been selected to receive the Antonia Fraser Award for a biography of a woman or women. It is particularly fitting that it should help fund my project, which is all about literary mothers, both biological and intellectual. My book is about the mothers of Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Sylvia Plath, it will tell the stories of these remarkable women and examine their exceptional influence on their daughters’ lives, literature and feminism.  The award will allow me to complete original research in archives in America, Norway and Britain.

Rachel Trethewey read History at Oxford University, where she won the Philip Geddes Prize for Student Journalism. During her subsequent journalist career she wrote features for the Daily Mail and Daily Express and reviewed historical books and biographies for The Independent. She has an MA in Victorian Studies and a PhD in English from Exeter University. She has written four non-fiction books, Mistress of the Arts,  Pearls Before Poppies, Before Wallis and The Churchill Girls.

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