UCL Department of Geography


UCL Geography-linked poetry collection shortlisted for Ondaatje Prize

13 May 2022

Poet Yousif M. Qasmiyeh's collection 'Writing the Camp' (Broken Sleep Books, 2021) was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature (RSL) 2022 Ondaatje Prize earlier this month.


Written during his work as Writer-in-Residence at Refugee Hosts, a project led by UCL Geography's Professor Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, Yousif's work joined other pieces of 'outstanding work of fiction, non-fiction or poetry that best evokes the spirit of place.'

At the award ceremony on Wednesday, 4th May, Professor Sandeep Parmer, Chair of the judging panel, praised the collection:

“Writing from the thresholds of real and eternal, imagined displacements, Yousif M. Qasmiyeh’s Writing the Camp is an unforgettable book of poems that meditates, with devastating imagery, on what it means to survive. No one who steps inside this book’s taut, wild and brilliant refiguring of poetic language will fail to be forever changed by its indictments of the refugee crisis.”

On being shortlisted, Yousif said, “In the refugee camp, the spirit of the place does not only belong to the camp itself but also, and always, to places that lie before and after the camp. It is a huge honour for Writing the Camp to be shortlisted for the 2022 RSL Ondaatje Prize and for refugees and their places, wherever they are, to be recognised in their own right.”

Read RSL's press release about the event and access more of Yousif M. Qasmiyeh’s writing, including listening to him read his poetry, at Refugee Hosts.

The other shortlisted authors are: A.K. Blakemore, Lea Ypi, Elif Shak, Cal Flyn and Sathnam Sanghera.