Polari Literary Salon – host to the UK’s only book prizes for emerging and established LGBTQ+ writers – opens its call to publishers for this year’s awards

Graham Robson March 10, 2023

Polari Literary Salon – host to the UK’s only book prizes for emerging and established LGBTQ+ writers – has opened its call to publishers for this year’s awards. This year there will be two awards: the Polari First Book Prize and the Polari Prize. The Polari Children’s and YA Prize will return in 2024, as a bi-annual award for books for children and young adults with LGBTQ+ themes or representation.

The Polari First Book Prize is awarded annually to a debut book that explores the LGBTQ+ experience, and has previously been won by writers including Kirsty Logan, Amrou Al-Kadhi, Diriye Osman, Mohsin Zaidi, and last year’s winner Adam Zmith, for his his keenly-researched history of poppers and their role in queer life, Deep Sniff.

The Polari Prize also awards an overall book of the year, excluding debuts, and previous winners include Andrew McMillan (Playtime), Kate Davies (In At the Deep End), Diana Souhami (No Modernism Without Lesbians) and last year’s winner Joelle Taylor for her electrifying poetry collection, exploring the UK’s underground lesbian culture, C+nto and Othered Poems.

The winner’s ceremony will once again return to the British Library, taking place in November 2023.

Paul Burston

Paul Burston, founder of the Polari Literary Salon and Polari Prizes, said: “I’m thrilled to welcome current prize winners Joelle Taylor and Adam Zmith, along with editor Nick Taylor to the judging panels for this year’s awards. The Polari Prize has grown so much over the past few years. The judges have been struck by the quality and variety of submissions and we look forward to seeing what pleasures lie in store for us this year.”

Leading literary PR consultancy FMcM will continue its sponsorship of the Polari First Book Prize, with the winner receiving a cheque for £1,000. This year the prize continues its tradition of having the winner of the previous year on each judging panel with the remaining judges being made up of a distinguished group of authors and industry professionals. For the Polari First Book Prize the judges are author Rachel Holmes, poet Sophia Blackwell, editor Nick Taylor, and 2022 prize winner Adam Zmith.

Now in its fifth year, the Polari Prize will continue to be sponsored by D H H Literary Agency, with the winner receiving a cheque for £2,000. The judging panel includes author VG Lee, literary critic Suzi Feay, Chris Gribble of the National Centre for Writing and 2022 prize winner Joelle Taylor. Both prize panels will be chaired by founder, journalist and author Paul Burston.

For further information on submissions, email Paul Burston, clearly indicating which prize you wish to enter.