London poet Raymond Antrobus, who was thought to be dyslexic with severe learning disabilities until his deafness was discovered at the age of six, has won the Ted Hughes Award for new work in Poetry.
He has won the £5,000 prize for his debut collection The Perseverance.
The poems explore loss and legacy through his own deaf experience.
The judges praised it as “transformative writing creating a new cultural landscape”.
“Antrobus makes us hear between the lines through poems well-crafted with emotional intelligence. This collection’s critique of the supremacy of the sonic world opened new doors and gave us new insights,” they said.
Antrobus was born in Hackney to an English mother and Jamaican father.
At school he was taunted by hearing children because he had to sit at the front to hear the teacher, and deaf children called him a “baby signer” because he came to British Sign Language late and wasn’t as proficient as them.
He went on to become a teacher and is one of the world’s first recipients of an MA in Spoken Word Education from Goldsmiths, University of London.
He works nationally and internationally as a freelance poet and teacher.
Last year, he was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Award by the Poetry Society.
The Perseverance has also been named Poetry Book of the Year in The Guardian and The Sunday Times.
The Ted Hughes Award is funded by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. It was judged by Linton Kwesi Johnson, Mark Oakley and Clare Shaw.
Meanwhile, Wayne Holloway-Smith was chosen as the winner of the National Poetry competition, with his poem, The posh mums are boxing in the square’.
He beat 14,000 entries for the £5,000 prize which the judges praised as “a poem that hits us in our own gut with its devastating gravitas”.