The King's Gold Medal for Poetry 2023

Published

The King has approved the award of His Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2023 to Mimi Khalvati. The Gold Medal for Poetry was established by King George V in 1933 and is awarded for excellence in poetry. Each year’s recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm.

The King has approved the award of His Majesty’s Gold Medal for Poetry for the year 2023 to Mimi Khalvati.

The Gold Medal for Poetry was established by King George V in 1933 and is awarded for excellence in poetry. Each year’s recipient is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm.

The Poetry Medal Committee, chaired by the Poet Laureate Simon Armitage, recommended Mimi Khalvati as the recipient of the Medal for 2023 due to her outstanding talent and ability to draw on diverse cultural traditions – Iranian, English and American – to enrich British poetry. This is seen in her book In White Ink which features memorable poems like ‘Rubaiyat’, a commemorative poem written for her grandmother, Telajune, who lived and died in Tehran, and intertwines Khalvati’s reflections on modern-day London.

Mimi Khalvati’s initial publication Persian Miniatures (1990) was a joint winner of the Poetry Business prize and In White Ink (1991)revealed her outstanding talent and highly individual voice. Since then, Khalvati has published nine thematically and formally varied collections of poetry. Many have won accolades from the Poetry Book Society with The Meanest Flower shortlisted for the 2007 T.S. Eliot Prize. Mimi Khalvati also has a Cholmondeley Award and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

On receiving the award, Mimi Khalvati said:

“When I first received news of my award, I felt amazed, incredulous, thrilled and not a little terrified. But more than that, I just felt happy. To receive such an affirmation of my work and to be numbered among the wonderful poets who have been previous recipients is an honour and privilege I am deeply grateful for. My warmest thanks go to Simon Armitage, our Poet Laureate, and the committee, for reading and responding to my poetry, and for their recommendation.

“I started writing late in life and have always felt myself to be serving an unending apprenticeship, steeped in the process of becoming a poet, and never actually being one. But now, in my eightieth year, I am! And through my writing years I have been lucky enough to see many barriers of gender, age, ethnicity, fall, and to be welcomed into a community of poets, many of whom I have worked with, shared poems with and learned from. Having lost ties to my country, Iran, but finding a home in English poetry, often universal in outlook and excitingly porous to other cultures, has been made all the more precious to me by this generous recognition.”

The Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, said: 

“Since the early 1990s Mimi Khalvati has been a pioneering and adventurous voice in the mainstream of British poetry, bridging cultural and linguistic traditions between her native Iranian heritage and the country where she came to live.  Endlessly imaginative and playful, her work weaves social and political concerns with personal history and private experience. She is a highly-respected teacher and supporter of new writers, especially of women poets who have been inspired by her example, her natural talent and her encouragement.  Mimi receives the King’s Gold Medal for Poetry in respect of a body of published work that includes eight outstanding full-length collections, and in recognition of her tireless work as a tutor and as one of the founding members of The Poetry School.”

Background

Biography: Mimi Khalvati

Mimi Khalvati was born in Tehran in 1944 and spent much of her childhood at boarding school on the Isle of Wight, only returning to Iran at 17. 

A pioneering woman poet, Khalvati has drawn on diverse cultural traditions – Iranian, English and American – to enrich British literature. Khalvati also employs set forms such as the sonnet and the villanelle as well as the Persian ghazal that she helped establish in contemporary British poetry. 

The background to Khalvati’s work includes the double exile from Iran. This sense of dislocation and sadness runs through her work though it is countered by her love of life and fascination with its daily minutiae. Khalvati also explores the difficult theme of mental illness in poems such as ‘The Suzuki Method’.

Mimi Khalvati has inspired generations of poets through the skill, resourcefulness and beauty of her writing as well as being a much-loved tutor. In the 1990s, Khalvati co-founded the Poetry School in London, which continues to help students of all ages and backgrounds to develop their poetry writing.

History of The King’s Gold Medal for Poetry

The Gold Medal for Poetry was instituted by King George V in 1933 at the suggestion of the then Poet Laureate, John Masefield. The Medal is awarded for excellence in poetry, on the basis either of a body of work over several years, or for an outstanding poetry collection issued during the year of the award. The poet is from the United Kingdom or a Commonwealth Realm, and their poems will have been published.

During Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth’s reign, the Medal was known as The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. 

Previous recipients of The King’s/Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry:

1934      Laurence Whistler

1936      W H Auden

1940      Michael Thwaites

1952      Andrew Young

1953      Arthur Waley

1954      Ralph Hodgson

1955      Ruth Pitter

1956      Edmund Blunden

1957      Siegfried Sassoon

1959      Frances Cornford

1960      John Betjeman

1962      Christopher Fry

1963      William Plomer

1964      R S Thomas

1965      Philip Larkin

1967      Charles Causley

1968      Robert Graves

1969      Stevie Smith

1970      Roy Fuller

1971      Stephen Spender

1973      John Heath-Stubbs

1974        Ted Hughes

1977        Norman Nicholson

1981      D J Enright

1986      Norman MacCaig

1988      Derek Walcott

1989      Allen Curnow

1990      Sorley Maclean

1991      Judith Wright

1992      Kathleen Raine

1996      Peter Redgrove

1998      Les Murray

2000      Edwin Morgan

2001      Michael Longley

2002      Peter Porter

2003      U A Fanthorpe

2004      Hugo Williams

2006      Fleur Adcock

2007      James Fenton

2009      Don Paterson

2010      Gillian Clarke

2011      Jo Shapcott

2012      John Agard

2013      Douglas Dunn

2014      Imtiaz Dharker

2015      Liz Lochhead

2016      Gillian Allnutt

2017      Paul Muldoon

2018        Simon Armitage

2019        Lorna Goodison

2020        David Constantine

2021        Grace Nichols 

2022        Selima Hill

 

  

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