Winning Italian poetry prize puts Julian in prestigious company

28 May 2024
Painting of romantic poet sat in front of some ancient ruins

A University of Winchester academic is following in the footsteps of poet laureates and the greats of English literature after being awarded a prestigious literary prize in Italy. 

Dr Julian Stannard is this year’s recipient of the Lerici Anglo-Liguria Prize, whose previous winners have included current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and his predecessor Carol Ann Duffy who won the Lerici Life Time Achievement Award. 

The Anglo-Liguria Prize is awarded to a poet who writes in English but who honours the literary traditions of the Lerici and Liguria area of north-west Italy. The prize was created to celebrate the area’s longstanding links with English writers, dating back to Byron and Shelly (pictured top) and including DH Lawrence. 

Middle aged man with dark hair in black jacket and white shirt

Julian (pictured) who spent several years as a lecturer at the University of Genoa is well known in Italy where his bilingual poetry collection Sottoripa: Genoese Poems was a commercial and critical hit. 

He has written about the region since 1980s and often returns to take part in Genoa’s International Poetry Festival. 

The award was announced at the recent Turin Book Fair and came as a complete surprise to Julian at home in England. 

“I had some inkling there was something going on when I received an email from Italy asking if I would be free on August 9, the date of the prize ceremony,” said Julian. 

Since the news broke Julian’s achievement has been taken up in the national press in Italy. 

“I think they find it a wonderful curiosity that an English poet has dedicated so much time and effort to a region of Italy,” said Julian. 

“I believe it’s very important to maintain these cultural links with Europe post-Brexit.” 

View across a sunlit bay with yacht to a castle on a rocky outcrop

Lerici (above)the place where Shelly drowned, has beguiled many great writers from the English-speaking world.  Following on from the romantic poets later residents and regular visitors have included Virgina Woolf, Ezra Pound and Henry James. The bay between the villages of Portovenere and Lerici was renamed the Golfo dei Poeti, Bay of the Poets, in honour of its literary connections. 

Julian said he “drifted” to Italy in the 1980s in search of work after graduating. While working at a language school in Genoa he was offered a post at the city’s university. He taught American and English Literature there from 1987 to 1993 and again from 2002 to 2005. 

Currently a Reader in English Literature and Creative Writing at Winchester, Julian has published nine books of poetry and won the International Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2010.  

His next volume of poetry, out next year, will feature new and selected poems. 

Professor Michael Bradshaw, Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, at the University of Winchester, said: “The award is a wonderful recognition of Julian’s writing, and marks him out as a poet of international distinction.  

“Julian has been writing on Italian themes and in a bilingual setting for some time, and really deserves distinction for the complexity and subtlety of his writing. The prize is also an indication of the extraordinary quality of the Creative Writing subject area at the University of Winchester. Felicitazione!” 

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