A NEWPORT poet has been longlisted for a Polari First Book Prize 2019.

RJ Arkhipov, who shares a surname with his grandfather who claimed asylum in the UK following the Second World War and grew up in Christchurch, is the only Welsh writer to be recognised in this year’s list.

The 27-year-old wordsmith is one of 12 people longlisted for the coveted award, with his collection of poems, essays, and photographs, Visceral: The Poetry of Blood (published by London-based Zuleika in 2018).

Mr Arkhipov said: “To have my first book recognised alongside those of some truly inspiring writers is a great honour for me.

“When my name was announced, I was lost for words. That’s not an ideal predicament for a poet to find himself in.

“I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the judges and to Paul Burston, the author and founder of the Polari Literary Salon and the chair of the Polari Prizes.”


The Polari First Book Prize champions work by writers whose first book explores the LGBT experience, whether in poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction.

Mr Arkhipov gained international acclaim in 2015 when he penned a series of poems using his own blood as ink to protest the gay blood donor ban in the United Kingdom, United States, and much of Europe.

This led to him being approached by Zuleika, with his book published on World Blood Donor Day (June 14) last year.

The work discusses the stigma and sensuality surrounding the gay community through the media of verse, essay and photography.

When announcing the long-list, founder of the awards Paul Burston said: “The books on this year’s long-lists celebrate LGBT lives in their many varieties.

“These long-lists represent the very best in emerging and established LGBT literary talent today.”

You can order hardback copy of Visceral: The Poetry of Blood online at