Mapping the Future reviewed in The Guardian & New Statesman

Mapping the Future reviewed in The Guardian & New Statesman


'Mapping the Future is a groundbreaking anthology of poetry and original essays offering fresh and daring literary perspectives from a new generation of outstanding British poets. It represents a landmark moment in the history of poetry.' – Bernardine Evaristo

A new anthology bringing together work by all 30 Fellows of the Complete Works poetry mentoring scheme supporting British poets from diverse backgrounds, was published by Bloodaxe Books on 19 October 2023.  Mapping the Future: The Complete Works Poets is edited by Nathalie Teitler, Director of The Complete Works, and Karen McCarthy Woolf, a Fellow of the programme who went on to edit the second two TEN anthologies featuring work by The Complete Works poets.

In her introduction to Mapping the Future, Nathalie Teitler recounts the history of The Complete Works, which supported 30 poets from 2008 through to 2020, and which has become the most successful collective ever formed in British poetry. In her Foreword to the anthology, Booker Prize winner Bernardine Evaristo explains why she was prompted to set up The Complete Works programme. A report she initiated found that in 2008 the level of poets of colour published by major presses was less than 1%. By 2020 it was over 20%. 

The Complete Works Poetry played a significant role in this transformation of the British poetry scene, producing three Forward Prize winners, two T.S. Eliot Prize and Ted Hughes Award winners, along with single prize wins for the Somerset Maugham Award, Dylan Thomas Prize, Rathbones Folio Prize and Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award. TCW Fellows have gone on to judge every major poetry award, publishing over 40 collections between them.

Mapping the Future presents new or recent work by Complete Works Fellows including Raymond Antrobus, Mona Arshi, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Kayo Chingonyi, Inua Ellams, Will Harris, Sarah Howe, Roger Robinson, Warsan Shire, Yomi ᚢode and Karen McCarthy Woolf. It also includes ten engaging essays re-drawing the map of British poetry, touching on some of the most significant topics of our time.

Karen McCarthy Woolf was born in London to English and Jamaican parents. She is a Fellow of The Complete Works, and was included in its first anthology, Ten: New Poets from Spread the Word (2010), edited by Bernardine Evaristo & Daljit Nagra. McCarthy Woolf edited the subsequent anthologies, Ten: The New Wave (2014) and Ten: Poets of the New Generation (2017), also co-editing Mapping the Future: The Complete Works (2023) with Nathalie Teitler, all from Bloodaxe Books. Her first collection, An Aviary of Small Birds (Carcanet, 2014), was shortlisted for both the Forward and Aldeburgh Best First Collection Prizes. Her second, Seasonal Disturbances (Carcanet, 2017), was a winner in the inaugural Laurel Prize for eco poetry. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022.

Nathalie Teitler was born in Buenos Aires and holds a PhD in Latin American Poetry. She has run literature programmes promoting diversity in the UK for over 20 years and is Director of The Complete Works. She co-edited Un Nuevo Sol: British LatinX Writers (flipped eye, 2019) with Nii Ayikwei Parkes, and Mapping the Future: The Complete Works (2023) with Karen McCarthy Woolf. She was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2018, and was appointed Projects Manager for the Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowships in 2018.



The Guardian, Poem of the Week, online Monday 11 December 2023

Carol Rumens featured ‘The Weight of the World’ by Seni Seneviratne as her Poem of the Week on 11 December.  The poem is included in Karen McCarthy Woolf & Nathalie Teitler’s new Bloodaxe anthology Mapping the Future: The Complete Works Poets and was first published in Seni Seneviratne’s 2019 collection Unknown Soldier (Peepal Tree Press).

‘The sonnet is a form well-adapted to bearing disruption without falling apart. A number of contemporary poets have made it the site of controlled political and cultural explosions. Seneviratne’s poem emphasises the control. In the portrayal of a domestic mother-daughter activity that’s also a shared ritual, distances are harmonised but not entirely smoothed over … life-changing journeys of new countries and mixed marriage are almost imperceptibly evoked.’ – Carol Rumens, Poem of the Week, The Guardian



The Guardian, Best Poetry Books of the Year 2023, Tuesday 5 December 2023

Rishi Dastidar chose Mapping the Future as one of his poetry books of the year in his feature of 5 December in The Guardian.

'The year also saw three noteworthy anthologies ... Mapping the Future (Bloodaxe), edited by Nathalie Teitler and Karen McCarthy Woolf, brings together poems and essays from the 30 graduates of the Complete Works, the programme that did so much to bring recognition to British-based poets of colour such as Malika Booker and Roger Robinson.' – Rishi Dastidar, The Guardian (Best poetry books of 2023)

Read the full feature in The Guardian here.



The Guardian, Poetry Books of the Month, Saturday 2 December 2023

Mapping the Future was very well reviewed by Fiona Sampson in her Poetry Books of the Month feature in The Guardian of 2 December.

'This generous anthology marks 15 years of the transformative project founded by Bernardine Evaristo and directed by Nathalie Teitler, which has been rocket fuel for work by British poets of majority global heritage ... The 30 Complete Works fellows comprise a roster of some of the most influential voices in the UK today, including Raymond Antrobus, Jay Bernard, Malika Booker, Sarah Howe, Roger Robinson and Warsan Shire. This volume demonstrates again how visionary that programme of mentorship and real-world opportunities was. There’s a breathtaking variety of poetics ... read this for excitement, inspiration, and also to map, as Eileen Pun puts it, “How thought becomes manifest, how the I / continually tries every variation of light”.' –  Fiona Sampson, The Guardian (Poetry Books of the Month)

In print in The Guardian's Saturday magazine on 2 December 2023.  Available online on The Guardian website.


The New Statesman, Friday 20 October 2023

Mapping the Future was well reviewed in brief in The New Statesman of 20 October, the day after publication. 

Mapping the Future collects work from all 30 of the poets who have passed through the Complete Works mentoring programme, which was founded by Bernardine Evaristo in 2008 to address the poor representation of poets of colour in British publishing. Alumni have since won awards including the TS Eliot Prize (Roger Robinson and Sarah Howe) and have become influential editors and curators. As the introduction reports, in 2005 less than 1 per cent of poets published by major British presses were black or Asian; by this year that was 20 per cent. The anthology’s triumphant tone, then, is well justified. This is vital writing, wide-ranging in form and subject.’ – Matthew Gilley, The New Statesman

Register for free to read the article in full.


Poems from Mapping the Future

This video features these poets reading their poems from Mapping the Future: Leo Boix, Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Ian Humphreys, Degna Stone, Rishi Dastidar, Adam Lowe, Eileen Pun, Rowyda Amin, Malika Booker, Roger Robinson, Denise Saul, Seni Seneviratne and Inua Ellams.


Bernardine Evaristo on Mapping the Future

Bernardine Evaristo talks about the cultural importance of The Complete Works, which she founded, and the anthology Mapping the Future, drawing on the Foreword she wrote for the book.

[01 December 2023]

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