Polly Atkin lives Cumbria. Her first poetry collection Basic Nest Architecture (Seren: 2017) was followed by a third pamphlet, With Invisible Rain (New Walk Press: 2018), which draws on Dorothy Wordsworth’s late journals to explore ways to express pain. Her first pamphlet bone song (Aussteiger, 2008) was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Pamphlet Award, 2009, and second, Shadow Dispatches (Seren, 2013), won the Mslexia Pamphlet Prize, 2012. She has taught English and Creative Writing at QMUL, Lancaster University, and the Universities of Strathclyde and Cumbria. She is working on a on-fiction book reflecting on place, belonging and chronic illness. An extract from this, ‘Swimming against the Nature Cure’, focused on outdoor swimming and disability, was published in March 2020 in Ache magazine. In 2019 she co-founded the Open Mountain initiative at Kendal Mountain Festival with Kate Davis and Anita Sethi, which seeks to centre voices that are currently at the margins of outdoor, mountain and nature writing.
Winning a Northern Writers’ Award would never not be a great boost to both morale and finances, but this year it feels like a life-saver. I had to keep re-reading the email to check it was real. Like many freelance writers, I lost most of paid work for the year in March. Like many disabled and chronically ill writers, I’m facing a long period of uncertainty, knowing it may not be save to resume face-to-face work for many months to come. This award not only offers creative encouragement when I really need it, but financial support which will make continuing to create possible. It has saved my year.