Kaelyn Sabal Wilson ’19 wins 2021 Pat Kavanagh Prize for Creative and Life Writing

Reprinted with permission. Original story via Goldsmiths, University of London

Kaelyn Sabal Wilson’s work spans local and global explorations of girlhood, womanhood, queerness, blackness, and otherness, with recent poems focused on her Afro-Caribbean upbringing in suburban Southern California and current life as a second-generation black queer woman in the world.

Sabal Wilson studied African American Studies and Communication at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, and completed her MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths across 2019-2020.

Her shortlisted collection of poems, to write about home (or what belongs to me) was awarded the £500 Pat Kavanagh Prize during an online ceremony on Wednesday 3 February held by United Agents and the Goldsmiths Writers’ Centre, part of the Department of English and Creative Writing.

Now in its 12th year, the Prize was introduced in memory of Pat Kavanagh, who died in 2008, to honour her commitment to nurturing new talent at the very start of their careers.

Each year a longlist of those who gained a distinction in the MA Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths is sent to United Agents, the agency which Pat Kavanagh helped to set up, with a shortlist and winner selected by a panel.

A literary agent for more than 40 years, Kavanagh’s high-profile clients included Tom Wolfe, Joanna Trollope, Robert Harris, John Irving and her husband Julian Barnes. Kavanagh was among the “rebels” who left one of the oldest agencies in the UK to set up United Agents in 2007.

This year’s shortlisted writers were:

Theis Anderson – Dumbwaiter
Brigid Baker – First Holy Communion
Ellie Nova – Mother Wound
Rhys O’Connor – Physical Therapy
Artemis Saatchi – Great Green Couches
Kaelyn Sabal-Wilson – to write about home (or what belongs to me)

Previous winners of the Pat Kavanagh Prize are Jonathan Holt, David Nash, Giovanna Iozzi, Julia Rotte, Luiza Sauma, Paul Carney, Bex Barton, Karen Raney, Kate Kerrow, Lisa Smith and Aileen Maguire. Winning the Pat Kavanagh Prize has acted as a catalyst for publication for work by many of these writers.