A University of Winchester academic has been awarded a prestigious literary prize in Italy.

Dr Julian Stannard, this year's recipient of the Lerici Anglo-Liguria Prize, shares the honour with stars of English literature, including current Poet Laureate Simon Armitage and Carol Ann Duffy.

The prestigious prize honours English language poets who pay tribute to the literary traditions of the Lerici and Liguria area of northwest Italy.

The award acknowledges the region's long history with celebrated English writers ranging from Byron and Shelley to DH Lawrence.

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Dr Stannard spent several years lecturing at the University of Genoa and his successful bilingual poetry collection 'Sottoripa: Genoese Poems' appealed to both critics and the general public alike.

Dr Stannard said: "I had some inkling there was something going on when I received an email from Italy asking if I would be free on August 9, the date of the prize ceremony."

The award was announced at the Turin Book Fair and took him by surprise.

Since the announcement, Dr Stannard's achievement has been attracting attention in Italy’s national media.

"I think they find it a wonderful curiosity that an English poet has dedicated so much time and effort to a region of Italy," said Dr Stannard.

He emphasized the importance of maintaining cultural ties with Europe following Brexit.

After graduating, Dr Stannard "drifted" to Italy in the 1980s in search of work.

He landed a post at the University of Genoa where he taught American and English Literature from 1987 to 1993 and again from 2002 to 2005.

Now a reader in English Literature and Creative Writing at Winchester, his literary accomplishments feature nine books of poetry, and an International Troubadour Poetry Prize in 2010.

His next book, featuring new and selected poems, is expected next year.

Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Winchester, Professor Michael Bradshaw, said: "The award is a wonderful recognition of Julian’s writing, and marks him out as a poet of international distinction.

"Julian has been writing on Italian themes and in a bilingual setting for some time, and really deserves distinction for the complexity and subtlety of his writing.

"The prize is also an indication of the extraordinary quality of the Creative Writing subject area at the University of Winchester.