The Polari Prize

image of the speakers from Polari

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The leading LGBTQ+ literary prize comes to the British Library.

This event takes place at the British Library.

This event will not be live-streamed.

Tonight the winners of this year’s Polari Prize awards are announced.  We are joined by previous winners John McCullough and Diana Souhami. Plus you can enjoy live music from singer David McAlmont accompanied by Janette Mason, who’ll be performing wall to wall Bowie.  

The Polari Prize – the UK’s only book awards for LGBTQ+ writing was first founded in 2011.  There are now three prizes – for debut, non-debut and children’s / YA book – kindly sponsored by DHH Literary Agency, FMcM Associates and Little Box of Books.

Singer David McAlmont first came to attention with the London band Thieves, before enjoying success as a solo artist and in a series of collaborations with musicians as diverse as Bernard Butler, Guy Davies and Michael Nyman. His latest collaboration is with DJ Hifi Sean. A firm favourite at Polari, tonight David is joined by composer and pianist Janette Mason, whose latest release is Wall to Wall Bowie.  

John McCullough’s book of poems, Reckless Paper Birds (Penned in the Margins) won the 2020 Hawthornden Prize and was shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award. He also won the Polari First Book Prize in 2012 and was shortlisted for the 2021 Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. His new collection, Panic Response, explores personal and cultural anxiety, and the ways people respond.
John McCullough image by Steven Wells

Diana Souhami’s many books include Gluck: Her Biography, Gertrude and Alice, Greta and Cecil, The Trials of Radclyffe Hall, Wild Girls, and the bestselling Mrs Keppel and Her Daughter. In 2021 she was awarded the Polari Prize for her latest book, No Modernism Without Lesbians. A Rainbow List National Treasure, she is currently working on a memoir and divides her time between Cornwall and London.

Diana Souhami image by Vera Jacquet

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. Paul is the founder of The Polari Prize book awards for LGBTQ+ writers. 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 next year.
Paul Burston image by Krystyna FitzGerald-Morris

Polari Salon was founded in 2007 in a bar in Soho. Since then, it has become a key feature of London’s literary scene, showcasing emerging and established LGBTQ+ authors, poets and spoken word performers at a variety of arts centres, book festivals, libraries, museums and queer commercial venues like Heaven nightclub and The RVT.

Writers who've appeared at Polari include Amrou Al-Kadhi, Neil Bartlett, Dustin Lance Black, Russell T Davies, Juno Dawson, Bernardine Evaristo, Patrick Gale, Nikita Gill, Niven Govinden, Garth Greenwell, Philip Hensher, Juliet Jacques, Jackie Kay, Val McDermid, Andrew McMillan, Charlotte Mendelson, Fiona Mozley, Musa Okwonga, Okechukwu Nzelu, Diriye Osman, Juno Roche, Ali Smith, Diana Souhami, Joelle Taylor, Paula Varjack and Sarah Waters.

Since 2014, Polari has also toured annually, supported by Arts Council England and appearing across the UK and beyond, with regular events in Bradford, Edinburgh, Hastings, Huddersfield, Manchester and Newcastle.

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Name: The Polari Prize
Where: Terrace Restaurant
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546