Caught by the River

A Few Words on the Faber New Poets

Martha Sprackland | 12th May 2016

Caught by the River poet-in-residence and Faber & Faber Assistant Poetry Editor Martha Sprackland gives a rundown of Faber’s New Poets scheme.


The Faber New Poets scheme, run by Faber & Faber with the support of Arts Council England, exists to provide support, encouragement and opportunity to emerging writers.

Open to those who have yet to publish a first full collection of poetry, the scheme offers four poets – chosen, this year, from a wide field of 900 submissions – an award in three parts. The first is a bursary, to allow them to buy time away from work, or to fund a writing retreat. The second, a year’s work with a mentor of their choice, a relationship which will strengthen and develop their work as they move towards a first book. Third, publication of a sixteen-page limited-edition pamphlet of their work.

Previous participants in the scheme have gone on to further success and have published collections to great acclaim, including Jack Underwood, Toby Martinez de las Rivas and Sam Riviere, all of whom released their debuts with Faber.

This year’s quartet of Faber New Poets is an outstandingly talented group of writers, fresh from a sell-out tour of readings.

Elaine Beckett grew up in Kent and studied music, film and architecture in London. She has mainly worked as a university lecturer. In 2008 she moved to Dorset where she joined a poetry group led by Annie Freud. In 2012 she won the Bridport’s Dorset Award. Her poems have been published in Templar’s Skein anthology, South Bank Poetry and the Bloodaxe Raving Beauties anthology, Hallelujah for 50ft Women.

Crispin Best lives in London and at He edits For Every Year, an online project aiming to collect a piece of art or writing in honour of every year since 1400. His writing has appeared in The Best British Poetry 2015 (Salt), The Quietus, Dazed & Confused, Poems in Which and clinic, among others. He has performed his poetry to audiences in New York, Chicago, Berlin, Melbourne, Edinburgh, and at the Serpentine Gallery in London.

Sam Buchan-Watts was born in London in 1989. He studied English Literature at Goldsmiths and Creative Writing at UEA. He is a co-editor of the poetry anthology series clinic. His poems have appeared in Poetry London and Salt’s The Best British Poetry series, and his articles in PN Review, i-D and elsewhere.

Rachel Curzon was born in Leeds in 1978. She studied English at Oxford, trained to be a teacher in London, and now teaches in a boys’ school in Hampshire. She received an Eric Gregory Award in 2007 and was a runner-up in the Bridport Prize in the same year. Her poems have appeared in the Rialto, Poetry London and Magma. She lives in Andover.

Faber New Poets past and present – as well as Caught by the River poets-in-residence Will Burns and Martha Sprackland – will join us at Port Eliot Festival on Friday 29 July, and Caught by the River Thames over the weekend of 6-7 August.