Hannah Lowe won the Costa Poetry Award for her book, children, partly inspired by her time teaching literature to high school students in London.
The book is a collection of sonnets – love poems about teaching and learning. He draws inspiration from her decade of teaching English in the 2000s, her own experiences learning as a teenager and coming of age in the 90s, and her role as a mother.
Costa Book Award judges called her third book “the real deal, a page-turner that made them want to hit the air with joy.”
“I’m thrilled, of course,” said Brunel’s creative writing teacher, Dr. Lowe. “It’s fantastic that children will have a wider readership thanks to these awards. I don’t know if Brunel’s students have read it, but I hope they will.
“children features a range of young people, including myself and my son, as well as the students I taught in the 2000s. There are multiple experiences represented, and I hope everyone who reads it will recognize something of themselves in the poems, whether as student, teacher, parent or child.
While children does not hesitate to ask difficult questions about education, it shows a real penchant for the children themselves and their uplifting thirst for learning.
“For Hannah to be one of the ten poets in the country nominated for the TS Eliot Prize is a huge achievement,” said Meretta Elliott, Head of English and Humanities at Brunel. “But in the same year, winning the Costa Poetry Award is simply exceptional. Creative writing at Brunel once again demonstrates the quality of our speakers and Hannah’s success will only strengthen the aspirations of our students.
Based in Wood Green, North London, Dr Lowe was born in Essex to a Jamaican-Chinese father and an English mother. Themes of family, multiculturalism and mixed heritage run through much of her work. She is currently working on two books of poetry due out in May, on the historical entanglements of the British Empire and China. One concerns Chinese wallpaper, “a luxury item of empire, many examples of which can still be found in large British homes, particularly in National Trust houses”, she says. “The other is about the old Chinatown of Limehouse and explores some of the Sinophobic responses to Chinese at that time and the building of Limehouse’s notoriety.”
Dr. Lowe’s first collection of poetry, Chick (Bloodaxe, 2013) won the Michael Murphy Memorial Award for Best Debut Collection. In September 2014, she was named one of the 20 Next Generation Poets by the Poetry Book Society. His family memoirs It has been a long time (Periscope, 2015) featured as BBC Radio 4’s Book of the Week.
The overall Costa Book of the Year award, worth £30,000, will be announced on February 1.
children by Hannah Lowe Bloodaxe Books, £10.99
Hear Hannah talk about The Kids on Front row of BBC Radio 4
Images: Lealle Brady courtesy of Bloodaxe Books