English teacher shortlisted for Costa Book Awards 2014

November 25, 2014

my_familyAn English teacher and poet has been shortlisted for a national book award.

Jonathan Edwards, who has taught at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls for nine years, is in the running for the Costa Book Awards 2014.

The imaginative writer has been shortlisted in the poetry category with his book My Family and Other Superheroes.

The winner of the competition’s five categories receives £5,000 with the overall book of the year winner receiving £30,000.

Mr Edwards said: “It’s just amazing. There’s a glittering array of names on the shortlist.

“Some of the names are authors that I teach the girls about in school, like Michael Morpurgo.

“I write a lot about my family, my Valleys family, but someone told me early on that if I do that, I would be writing poems that only my family would read.

“So I try to broaden it out. I started throwing in these famous people so I’ve got all these poems about Ian Rush and Sophia Loren and others.”

The awards are the only major UK literary prize open only to writers who live in the UK and Ireland, and previous winners include Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth.

Mr Edwards had My Family and Other Superheroes – his first full collection of poems – published to critical acclaim in February 2014 by Seren Books.

The superheroes in question are a motley crew. Evel Knievel, Sophia Loren, Ian Rush, Marty McFly, a bicycling nun and a recalcitrant hippo all leap from the pages and jostle for position, alongside Valleys mams, dads and bamps, described with great warmth.

Other poems focus on the crammed terraces and abandoned high streets where working-class and Welsh nationalist politics are hammered out.

Mr Edwards runs a popular creative writing group at HMSG, and is inspiring the next generation of young poets.

Tom Arrand, Deputy Head of HMSG, said: “We were delighted to hear that Mr Edwards has been shortlisted for such a prestigious award.

“He is extremely modest but undeniably talented and his creativity offers real inspiration to pupils.

“We were able to offer Mr Edwards a sabbatical in order to work on his poetry and it is fantastic to see that this has brought about such a wonderful accolade.

“Last summer he ran a poetry workshop for pupils from all three secondary schools in Monmouth and the feedback was phenomenal.

“We are all delighted that he has got this far – his poetry is incredible.”


English teacher Jonathan Edwards