Polari Prize shortlist showcase

Composite of the speakers in the Polari event

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Writers shortlisted for the UK’s only LGBTQ+ book awards showcase their work.

This event has been rescheduled from the original date of 15 September.

This event takes place at the British Library.

The UK’s only book awards for LGBTQ+ writing, the Polari Prize was founded back in 2011. Over a decade on, diverse publishing has gone from strength to strength. Reflecting the growth in LGBTQ+ writing, there are now three Polari prizes: for debut, non-debut and Children’s/Young Adult books.

Previous prize winners include authors Amrou Al-Kadhi, Kate Davies, Saleem Haddad, Kirsty Logan, Paul McVeigh, Fiona Mozley, Diriye Osman, Diana Souhami and Mohsin Zaidi and poets John McCullough and Andrew McMillan. Past shortlisted writers include Juliet Jacques, Paul Mendez and Juno Roche.

Tonight three of this year’s shortlisted writers, Neil Bartlett, Elizabeth Chakrabarty and Joelle Taylor, join prize founder and chair of the judges Paul Burston to read from, and discuss their work. Expect an evening of stimulating conversation and queer storytelling like no other.

Neil Bartlett's first novel, the queer love story Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall, was written in a council flat on the Isle of Dogs, published in 1990 and translated into five European languages. His second, Mr Clive and Mr Page, was nominated for the Whitbread Prize in1996; his third, Skin Lane, was shortlisted for the Costa Award in 2007; his fourth, The Disappearance Boy, earnt him a nominationas Stonewall Author of the Year in 2014. Address Book was published in 2021 - and Neil is very proud that it has made it onto the Polari Prize shortlist. His new adaptation of Virginia Woolf's Orlando opens this November in the West End, and stars Emma Corrin.

Elizabeth Chakrabarty’s debut novel Lessons in Love and Other Crimes was inspired by experience of race hate crime, and published in 2021 by the Indigo Press. In 2022, it was longlisted for both the Desmond Elliott Prize, and shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. Elizabeth was also shortlisted for the Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022, for her story That Last Summer published in The Dinesh Allirajah Prize for Short Fiction 2022: Crime Stories by Comma Press. She lives in London.

Joelle Taylor is the author of four collections of poetry. Her most recent collection, C+NTO & Othered Poems (Westbourne Press) won the 2021 T.S Eliot Prize and was the subject of a Radio 4 arts documentary Butch. A former UK SLAM Champion she founded the national youth poetry slams SLAMbassadors through the Poetry Society in 2001, remaining its Artistic Director until 2018. She is a co-curator and host of Out-Spoken Live, resident at the Southbank Centre, and the current editor of Out-Spoken Press. She has recently completed a book tour of Australia. C+NTO is currently being adapted for theatre with a view to touring it from 2023. She is also completing her memoirs for publication in 2024, as well as a novel of interconnecting stories The Night Alphabet. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Paul Burston is the author of six novels and four non-fiction books and the editor of two short story collections. His latest novel is The Closer I Get (Orenda Books, 2019). Paul is curator and host of award-winning LGBTQ+ literary salon Polari and founder of The Polari Prize book awards for LGBTQ+ writers. In 2016, he featured in the British Council’s Global List of “33 visionary people promoting freedom, equality and LGBT rights around the world." A Rainbow List National Treasure and former AIDS activist with ACT-UP London, he is one of the subjects of Alexis Gregory’s critically acclaimed verbatim play Riot Act. His memoir, We Can Be Heroes, will be published by Little A next year.


Joelle Taylor by Roman Manfredi

Elizabeth Chakrabarty by Jason Keith

Paul Burston image by Krystyna FitzGerald-Morris

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Name: Polari Prize shortlist showcase
Where: Foyle Visitor and Learning Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
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When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546