The Scottish Poetry Library is initiating a new literary prize, the biennial Outstanding Contribution to Poetry in Scotland award. The first winner is Joy Hendry, the editor of influential magazine Chapman and a poet in her own right.
The award will be given this year and next; thereafter, the prize will become biennial. The selection panel was the Library’s four ‘Ambassadors’: Thomas Clark, Hugh McMillan, Aoife Lyall and Ceitidh Campbell. The Outstanding Contribution award was set up to recognise the part played by those whose advocacy for Scottish poetry isn’t restricted to the writing of poetry itself, and could include in the future publishers, translators, and educators.
Joy Hendry is a Scottish writer and literary critic who is best known for her work as editor of the Scottish literary magazine Chapman. The magazine was founded in 1970 and has been edited by Hendry since 1976. Under her wing it has published fiction, poetry and essays by both established and emerging Scottish writers. She co-authored Bearings I, the first publication from The Poets’ Republic Press, with Katy Ewing.
On the subject of her award, Hendry says:
‘It can be a lonely, and it often seems thankless and unthanked job, being an editor, and working with other poets – though that’s unfair to almost all the poets I’ve worked with since I started this, aged a mere 18 or so, an upstart in this strange world.
‘These last 6 years or so, I’ve been sidelining Chapman and its various works for many reasons, but one of them is my absolute need to do more digging into my own poetic coal face. In some respects, I’ve not been very successful in this, having on the go, right now, major projects with four poets – maybe working with other poets is something I’m addicted to, and just can’t stop doing.
‘But what’s the ‘poetry’ all about? I can early remember a kind of ‘this is it’ feeling, aged 7 or so, about it, and it’s not so much the poetry itself, as what it represents – that something behind all poetry. And, indeed, there poetry itself is only symbolic of all that makes human life good and worthwhile. A search for truth, whatever that is – and the older I get the lesser is the need to define it, or anything else. It’s something that brings an indefinable, an ineffable sense of recognition from all, in spite of all and any superficial differences. Across all divides, people see and feel a ‘This is It’ recognition of something, well, something ‘good’ will do.
‘The news of this award means I can move forward as myself as an individual, very much a part of my community, encouraged and inspired. I am very, very grateful for this.’