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News story

Karl Nova wins Ruth Rendell Award 2020 for outstanding contribution to literacy

09 Dec 2020

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Hip Hop artist, author and poet Karl Nova (Rhythm and Poetry, Caboodle Books) has won the coveted Ruth Rendell Award for his outstanding contribution to raising literacy levels in the UK in the last year.

We launched the Award with Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society (ALCS) in 2016 in memory of bestselling author Ruth Rendell. The award celebrates the author who has done the most to champion literacy throughout the UK over the past year.

A special screening of this year’s ALCS award announcements took place on the evening of 9 December which featured a clip of Jonathan Douglas CBE, Chief Executive of the National Literacy Trust, surprising Nova with the announcement via Zoom.

Former winners of the Award include Children’s Laureate Cressida Cowell, Andy McNab and Tom Palmer.

Although many wonderful, dedicated writers were nominated, this year’s panel of judges, Di Redmond, (Non-Executive Director of ALCS), Antonia Byatt, (Chief Executive, First Story), Kirsty Telford, (Deputy Director, Ministry of Stories) and our Chief Executive Jonathan Douglas CBE were unanimous in their decision to award Karl, whose debut book, Rhythm and Poetry won the CLiPPA poetry prize 2018, this year’s Ruth Rendell Award.

Karl’s unwavering commitment to continuing and furthering his work to inspire young readers and writers through his creative writing workshops, talks and poetry continued during lockdown through digital channels which enabled him to reach children and young people all over the UK and beyond.

In the last year, Karl gave his time to over 75 different visits to schools, organisations and festivals, both in person and virtually, to inspire young readers and writers and has fuelled his advocacy for equality.

This year, Karl Nova’s achievements included:

  • Fronting the Premier League Writing Stars poetry competition, inspiring over 7,000 entries with his poem Beautiful Ambition and returning to his old primary school to deliver an assembly and individual poetry workshops to Key Stage One and Key Stage Two classes, as well as officially opening the school's new library
  • Being an ambassador for National Poetry Day, sharing a new poem, ‘see through my eyes’ to celebrate the day and inspire children and young people to get involved
  • Delivering creative writing workshops in person and digitally to children and young people all over the UK and internationally including at Hay Festival and Bradford Literature Festival

I was so happy when Jonathan told me the news. I do what I do because I love to do it! I got into poetry through hip hop music and spoken word slam poetry and that was my door into the world of literacy. The beauty of poetry is that it is for everyone and anyone can do it. I have been working with young people for many years now and to be recognised for it really does mean a lot. I want to thank everyone who nominated me for this award, and the National Literacy Trust and ALCS for this honour.

Karl Nova, winner of the Ruth Rendell Award 2020

To celebrate Karl Nova being the first poet to win the Ruth Rendell Award, he has shared some of his top tips on getting children into poetry which families can find our our Words for Life website!

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