(1989 - Present)
Poet Will Harris was born and raised in London, the son of a Chinese-Indonesian mother and a British father. He received his BA in English from Hertford College, University of Oxford. In 2016, was featured in ES Magazine as part of the “new guard” of London poets, along with Selina Nwulu, Kayo Chingonyi, and five others. All this is implied, Harris’ debut poetry pamphlet, was published by HappenStance in 2017; a joint winner of the London Review Bookshop Pamphlet of the Year award, it was also shortlisted for the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. That same year, his poetry was included in Bloodaxe’s anthology Ten: Poets of the New Generation.
In 2018, Harris’ poem “SAY” was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. His essay Mixed-Race Superman was published by Peninsula Press in 2018 and by Melville House in the US in 2019. He received a Poetry Fellowship from the UK’s Arts Foundation in 2019. During 2018 and 2019, he performed in the poetry show “What Days We’re Having Now,” produced by Jaybird Live Literature, with Alex MacDonald and Ella Frears.
Harris’s first poetry full-length, RENDANG (Granta, 2020), won the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. The book, published in the US by Wesleyan University Press, was a Poetry Book Society Choice and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. Intended to be read as a book-length poem, RENDANG cycles through forms to explore language, race, identity, and loss. According to Joanna Lee, “the collection leans into a vocabulary all of its own, and announces itself as an artefact that will not be dislodged.”
A fellow of The Complete Works III mentorship scheme for poets of color, Harris serves as Assistant Editor at The Rialto, co-editor of 13 Pages, and organizer of The Poetry Inquisition. He teaches for The Poetry School and leads workshops at London’s Southbank Centre. He co-edited Poetry Review’s Spring 2020 issue with Mary Jean Chan. Harris’ writing has appeared in the TLS, Granta, The Guardian, London Review of Books, The New Republic, Poets & Writers, Poetry London, The White Review, and other publications. He lives in London.
Photo by Matthew Thompson.