Local poet wins 2012 ‘Polari First Book’ Prize

Besi Besemar November 27, 2012

John McCullough

The Frost Fairs by local poet John McCullough has been named winner of the Polari First Book Prize 2012. This year, for the first time, the winner received a cheque for £1000, courtesy of Square Peg Media.

Paul Burston, chair of the judges, said:

“The judges were impressed with the polish and precision of the language, the confidence of the writing and the scope of the work. ‘The Frost Fairs’ isn’t a one-note collection, but one that covers many themes and strikes many chords, from modern transatlantic relationships to hidden gay lives from the past. It’s also surprisingly mature for a first book – a debut which doesn’t feel like a debut.”


The Polari Prize is for a first book which explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in the UK in English within the twelve months of the deadline for submissions (this year 1st February, 2012). Self-published works in both print and digital formats are eligible for submission.

The five shortlisted books were:

The Frost Fairs by John McCullogh (Salt)

Becoming Nancy by Terry Ronald (Transworld)

Exit Through The Wound by North Morgan (Limehouse Books)

Ey Up and Away by Vicky Ryder (Wandering Star Press)

Modern Love by Max Wallis (Flap)


The judges for the 2012 prize were:

Paul Burston (Chair of Judges), author, journalist and host of Polari

Rachel Holmes, author and former Head of Literature at the Southbank

Suzi Feay, literary critic

Joe Storey-Scott, books buyer

Bidisha, writer, critic and broadcaster

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