Scroll for announcements from 2021 and 2020.
February 12th 2022.
The winner of The Barbellion Prize 2021 is What Willow Says by Lynn Buckle (Époque Press).
“What Willow Says is undeniably brilliant,” says Barbellion Prize 2021 judge, writer and bookseller Eleanor Franzén. “Potentially both disorienting and reorienting to a non-Deaf audience, which is really what I think the best writing about all sorts of experience ought to be.”
What Willow Says is a powerful story of change and acceptance, as a deaf child and her grandmother experiment with the lyrical beauty of sign language through their love of trees, set to a backdrop of myths, legends, and ancient bogs.
“Reading the entries for the Barbellion Prize made one thing absolutely clear – disability literature has never been more vibrant and searchingly alive as it is now,” says fellow judge Karl Knights, writer, poet and winner of the 2021 New Poets Prize.
“We are delighted to award the prize to Lynn Buckle’s What Willow Says,” says Jake Goldsmith, founder and Director of The Barbellion Prize. “There was a stellar shortlist this year – it’s a common thing to say, but picking a winner is hard. In future years, when we have the capacity to do so, it is our intention to award all shortlisted authors a prize, with the trophy going to the winner – first among equals.”
Praise for What Willow Says:
“A powerful, moving book… every sentence, phrase and word is worth savouring.” - The Irish Independent.
“In a strong year for Irish writing, the standout was the poetic What Willow Says by Lynn Buckle.” - Rónán Hession, The Irish Times Books of the Year 2021.
“…a contemplative and lyrical exploration of the intersections of language, love and grief.” - Eoghan Smith, booksirelandmagazine.com.
British-born artist and writer Lynn Buckle, resident in Ireland for thirty years, has previously been listed as Easons Best of Irish Literature and nominated for the Republic of Consciousness Prize. She receives £1000 and a custom trophy, along with a copy of W.N.P. Barbellion’s The Journal of a Disappointed Man.
January 10th 2022.
"2021: a brilliant year for disability writing." - Barbellion Prize 2021 judge Karl Knights.
The Barbellion Prize 2021 Shortlist:
December 13th 2021.
The Barbellion Prize 2021 Longlist:
The Winner of The Barbellion Prize 2020 is 'GOLEM GIRL: A MEMOIR' by Riva Lehrer (One World/Virago).
In choosing Golem Girl: A Memoir, by renowned artist and writer Riva Lehrer, the judges agreed this is a brilliant social account of the history of disability, worthy of all its praise, and an estimable celebration of art and disabled life.
With the author’s powerful portraits included throughout, Golem Girl takes its readers into Riva Lehrer’s experiences as an artist born with disabilities into a world that is challenged by difference.
Barbellion Prize founder and director, Jake Goldsmith, says: “Golem Girl has been chosen from an already amazing shortlist, as well as a choice longlist. One that shows the depth and variety of what can be offered from literature that represents disability. Riva’s work deserves to be celebrated.”
Author and Assistant Professor of Literature, Dr Shahd Alshammari, and member of the judging panel says: “Golem Girl is a memoir that is infused with art, life, discrimination, love, self-love, and what it means to be vulnerable. Disability is on every page — and that is the type of literature we need.”
Fellow judge, Cat Mitchell, Lecturer and Programme Leader of the Writing and Publishing degree at the University of Derby, says: “Golem Girl is a powerful and wide-reaching account of a life lived with disability. By interweaving her writing and art, Riva explores queerness, community, society’s fear of difference, and the often problematic representation of disabled bodies in art and medicine.”
Speaking from her home in Chicago, Riva Lehrer says: “I woke up this morning and learned that my memoir, Golem Girl, had won The Barbellion Prize. What an appropriate time to hear the results of the award, with the dawn of a new era. The Barbellion Prize is helping inaugurate a new era for Disability Culture; one in which we're not shoved to the margins of Specialdom, but take our place among our cultural peers, and to create a more equal world through art. Thank you so much for choosing Golem Girl as the debut representative of your vision.”
Advisor to the Prize, Professor Tom Shakespeare FBA, Professor of Disability Research at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine says: “From Pope to Stevenson, Woolf to Plath, writers have lived with illness and disability for centuries. Now here comes exactly the right prize at the right time: disabled writers have been locked down far longer, and deserve far more recognition than they get. The Barbellion Prize deserves to succeed, and Riva Lehrer’s Golem Girl will put it on the map.”
Praise for Golem Girl:
“Golem Girl is luminous… a profound portrait of the artist as a young – and mature – woman; an unflinching social history of disability over the last six decades; and a hymn to life, love, family and spirit.” - David Mitchell, author of Cloud Atlas.
“Not your typical memoir about ‘what it’s like to be disabled in a non-disabled world’ . . . Lehrer tells her stories about becoming the monster she was always meant to be: glorious, defiant, unbound, and voracious. Read it!” - Alice Wong, founder and director, Disability Visibility Project.
About the Author:
Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer, and curator whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people with impairments, and those whose sexuality or gender identity have long been stigmatised. A long-time faculty member of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Riva Lehrer is currently an instructor in medical humanities at Northwestern University. https://www.rivalehrerart.com/
January 8th 2021.
The Barbellion Prize Shortlist for 2020:
Bloggers' reviews of our Shortlisted works can be found here:
December 12th 2020.
The Barbellion Prize Longlist for 2020: