Helen Dunmore's Inside the Wave wins 2017 Costa Poetry Award

Helen Dunmore's Inside the Wave wins 2017 Costa Poetry Award


"An astonishing collection of poems - a final, great achievement".  - Judges Moniza Alvi, Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Nick Wroe on Inside the Wave, winner of the 2017 Costa Poetry Award


The late Helen Dunmore’s final collection Inside the Wave has won the 2017 Costa Poetry Award. The announcement was made on BBC Radio 4's Front Row on 2 January 2018, when the winners of all five category shortlists were revealed.  Novelist Wendy Holden, who announced the winners, called Inside the Wave 'a triumph of optimism and the human spirit.'

Novelist Louise Doughty was interviewed about Inside the Wave on Front Row on Friday 5 January.  The programme featured archive recordings of Helen reading her poems ‘Counting Backwards’ and part of ‘Nightfall in the IKEA Kitchen’ – both taken from the special edition of The Verb with Helen Dunmore first broadcast last February.  Louise Doughty read ‘The Shaft’, which she said ‘encapsulates her ability to see the beautiful in what is obviously a very dark situation’.

‘There’s a kind of radiance in many of these poems; it’s suffused with radiance, this volume… it is a celebration of life – there’s nothing maudlin about this collection.  I think that’s the nature of its triumph.’ – Louise Doughty speaking about Inside the Wave on Radio 4’s Front Row

The winner of the overall Costa Book of the Year Award will be announced at a ceremony in London on 30 January, and will be broadcast live on Front Row.  More about all the category winners can be found on Front Row's website here.

In response to the book winning the Costa Poetry Award, Helen Dunmore's family write:

“We are absolutely delighted that Inside the Wave has won the poetry category. Helen would have been thrilled. Poetry was at the heart of all of Helen’s work, which makes this award very special.”

Helen Dunmore's son Patrick Charnley spoke to The Daily Telegraph about Inside the Wave.  He also contibuted to The Guardian's feature on the award winners,  The Guardian's piece also quotes Costa Poetry Award Judge Moniza Alvi, who said:

'These are poems that can connect us with each other, at a deeper level.  It is not an austere book.  The truths are sharp and they're not comfortable, yet they are also life-affirming and beautiful.'


Inside the Wave, Helen Dunmore’s tenth and final poetry book, was her first since The Malarkey (2012), whose title-poem won the National Poetry Competition. Her other books included Glad of These Times (2007), and Out of the Blue: Poems 1975-2001 (2001), a comprehensive selection drawing on seven previous collections.

Helen Dunmore (1952-2017) was a poet, novelist, short story and children’s writer. She was one of Bloodaxe's first writers, publishing her debut collection, The Apple Fall, in 1983, and went on to publish all her poetry with Bloodaxe.  Inside the Wave, which was her tenth poetry book, appeared in April 2017.  Her final poem, 'Hold out your arms', written on 25 May 2017 just ten days before her death, was read by actor Samantha Bond on Front Row on 7 June 2017 and published in The Guardian (it can be read here), and was added to the reprint of Inside the Wave.

In her tribute to Helen Dunmore in The Guardian, Kate Kellaway wrote: 'She was – first and last – a poet. Her first collection, The Apple Fall, was published when she was 30, her last, Inside the Wave, in April [2017]... Her last collection is her most spare and moving. Inside the Wave is smooth as a sea pebble and liminal – poised between life and death.’ Helen's obituary and further tributes can be found here.

[09 January 2018]

Back to News And Publicity




View Larger Text