‘This Afterlife: Selected Poems‘ by A.E. Stallings – who was just named the new Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford – has won the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award, the first book of poetry to ever win the award. Announcing the result of this year’s competition on Monday 19 June at a ceremony in the Great Hall of King’s College London, in the presence of the League’s Chief Patron & President, HRH Prince Michael of Kent, and a large audience in the hall and online, Prof. Peter Frankopan, the chair of judges, said: “This was a formidable year with a stunning set of entries. The range of scholarship, creativity and interests in all things Greek – from ideas of the body to those about mathematics, from aesthetics to myths. We were thrilled to shortlist two books of poetry, and genuinely excited to announce A.E. Stallings and This Afterlife: Selected Poems as the winner of the Runciman Award 2023. This is a sparkling, joyful and glorious collection. We are so pleased, too, that this is the first time the award has been won by a poet – Homer and his many peers will be smiling at our choice.”
The winner of the Award, Alicia Stallings, remarked: “I am stunned at this news. I was thrilled making the short list with a book of poems, and among such excellent contenders; I didn’t really think poetry would have a strong chance. ‘A selected poems’ is a lifetime’s work—and in this case, it turns out, a lifetime of creative engaging with Greek mythology, Greek history, modern Greece, and the continuum that is Greek. I couldn’t be more heartened by this honour and thrilled with this affirmation, for myself, but also for poetry, and those very Greek goddesses, the Muses.”
From the longlist of twenty-four books that was announced in January, the judges had selected seven books for the shortlist: “Heritage Aesthetics” by Anthony Anaxagorou, a collection of poetry, primarily concerned with the underexamined intersections of British-Cypriot identity, colonial history, and masculinity; “Looking for Theophrastus: Travels in Search of a Lost Philosopher” by Laura Beatty, a meditative travel/philosophy book on philosopher Theophrastus, who attended Plato’s academy and worked closely with Aristotle but has all but been forgotten; “The Greek Myths that Shape the Way We Think” by Richard Buxton, in which the writer traces eight iconic Greek myths from their ancient forms through their transformations over time in literature, art, cinema, psychology, and politics; “Fear of Light” by Julietta Harvey, a novel that explores the Greek Civil War and its complex legacy thrugh the story of the protagonist, a photofobic woman; “A New History of Greek Mathematics” by Raviel Netz, offering panoramic view of the rise and influence of Greek mathematics and its significance in world history; “This Afterlife: Selected Poems” A.E. Stallings, a collection that rings together poetry from the writer’s four acclaimed collections, Archaic Smile, Hapax, Olives, and Like, as well as a lagniappe of outlier poems; “Exposed: The Greek and Roman Body” by classicist Caroline Vout, who reaches beyond texts and galleries to expose Greek and Roman bodies for what they truly were: anxious, ailing, imperfect, diverse, and responsible for a legacy as lasting as their statues. Prof. Peter Frankopan reviewed the longlisted and shortlisted books on behalf of the panel of judges and announced the winner.
The Chair of the Council of the League, Dr John Kittmer, noted: ‘Congratulations to Alicia Stallings for winning the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award 2023: the first time in the history of the prize that the award has gone to a book of poems. It is richly deserved. It has been a pleasure, as always, to work with publishers, authors and our judges to bring about this competition. We are grateful particularly to Peter Frankopan, now stepping down after three years as chair of our judging panels; he has performed a remarkable service.’ The announcement of the winner of the Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award 2023 was made on Monday 19 June, 7pm at King’s College London, which co-hosted the event with the Anglo-Hellenic League. Prof. Dame Mary Beard (University of Cambridge) gave the keynote address on ‘How do we best argue for Classics?’.
This year’s winner, A.E. Stallings is an American poet, critic, and translator who lives in Athens. She has published five volumes of poetry, most recently This Afterlife: Selected Poems (Carcanet). Her most recent verse translation is the (illustrated) pseudo-Homeric The Battle Between the Frogs and the Mice (Paul Dry Books), for Penguin Classics she has published a translation of Hesiod’s Works and Days, and a translation of Lucretius. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim, USA Artists, and MacArthur Foundations, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Since 2015, she has led a poetry workshop for refugee women (from Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Congo, etc.) in Athens at the Melissa Network for Migrant Women. On 16 June 23, it was announced that she has been elected the next Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford.
The Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award
The Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award was conceived in 1983, as an initiative of Earl Jellicoe, the then chairman of the League, in honour of Sir Steven Runciman, the distinguished historian of Byzantium and longest-serving chairman of the League (1951-1967). It was first awarded in 1986 and has been given annually since then.
The award is given to the best book published in English in the previous year on a Greek subject. It aims to stimulate interest in Greek history and culture from earliest times to the present; to reward and encourage good and accessible writing, of which Runciman’s works are an example; and to promote a wider knowledge and understanding of Greece’s contribution to civilisation and values. The prize may be awarded for a work in the field of history, literary studies, biography, travel and topography, the arts, architecture, archaeology, the environment, social and political sciences or current affairs; or for a work of fiction, poetry or drama. Translations from Greek literature into English are also eligible.
The Anglo-Hellenic League Runciman Award is sponsored by the A. C. Laskaridis Charitable Foundation and the A. G. Leventis Foundation.
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