By Ryan Hogg
A poet from Lewisham has won a prestigious fellowship for their writing on the D/deaf and disabled community.
Jamie Hale, 30, was awarded £15,000 and a year of critical support after being announced as a Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellow for 2021.
Hale, whose writing explores living with a disability and attempts to create a space for marginalized artists, said they were surprised to hear they had been announced as a fellow.
They said: “It feels like a belief and an investment in a creative life that for a while felt unreachable.
“To have that belief in me now where it can rebuild space for me to create feels really special.”
Hale has performed their poetry at the Barbican theatre, and is currently directing a showcase of D/deaf and disable artists at the venue.
Their pamphlet, Shield, released in January 2021, explored mortality during the onset of the Covid pandemic, when they were told they would not be prioritised for treatment if they contracted the virus.
“When I wrote Shield it was an incredibly personal piece, and I hadn’t anticipated how much those pieces would resonate with people.
“That made me realise how big a reach my writing could have, and made me want to write about it more.”
The prize is unique in that it does not require the fellow to create a specified piece of art, but gives them the space to develop an artistic style without financial pressure.
They said: “It feels like support and investment in an artist rather than a piece of art.
“But it also feels like an enormous responsibility to live up to this community of artists, to really use the grant well.”
Hale wants to use the grant to explore how progressing disability is affecting their ability to perform, and how they can adapt their performance practice in response.
They also want to develop and run accessible online spaces to support emerging deaf and disabled artists.
Hale hopes to open up their experiences to universal themes of mortality to continue to resonate with a wider audience.
They said: “Marginalised artists often end up in a position where we feel our artistic value is in the work that comes from writing about our impairments, it boxes off our experiences.
“But I think work that explores the idea of being mortal is incredibly universal once we remove it from that silo.”
Pictured; Jamie Hale. Portrait Credit: CN Lester
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