The winners of the 2009 Christopher Tower Poetry Prize, the UK’s most prestigious award for 16 to 18 year old aspiring poets, were announced on 23 April 2009, at a reception at Christ Church in Oxford.
Seventeen-year old Timothy Carson from Sullivan Upper School, Belfast was awarded the £3000 first prize for his poem, Is Life Likely? Winner of the second (£1000) prize is Iona Twiston-Davies (Matthew Arnold School, Oxford) with Grey Mile and the third prizewinner (£500) is Paul Merchant from Tonbridge School, Kent with his poem, Three Guesses. The prizewinners’ schools each receive £150. In addition to the three main prize winners, four short-listed winners will also receive prizes.
In addition to the three main prize winners, four short-listed winners will also receive £250: Charlotte Turner (Varndean College, Brighton) for Doubt, and three students from St Paul’s Girls’ School, London - Sophie Stephenson-Wright for Villanelle, Emma Jourdan for Evidence, and Bethany Aitman for Contact.
The 2009 competition theme was ‘Doubt’. The record number of entrants, all born between 1990 and 1993 and representing every region in the UK, were inspired by the topic which included many diverse and thought-provoking interpretations including the use of sea and fog, hunger and juries, playing cards and bus stops as well as the inevitable, Thomas.
The judges included Jane Draycott, a UK-based poet with a particular interest in sound art, and collaborative and digital work, Daljit Nagra, winner of the Forward Poetry Prize in 2004 and 2007, and poet and lecturer Peter McDonald, Director of Tower Poetry.
Since 2000, the Christopher Tower Poetry competition has drawn attention to the huge creative potential of young adults in UK schools. The Tower competition is open to all sixth-form students in UK secondary schools and colleges. Many of the competition’s past winners have gone on to achieve further acclaim for their writing in other competitions or in the publishing world. Its growing reputation for discovering fresh and exciting poetry talent is part of several initiatives developed by Tower Poetry at Christ Church to encourage the writing and reading of poetry by young adults. Other projects include summer schools, poetry readings and conferences, teachers’ workshops, an ongoing publication programme and a website which is used as an educational resource in schools.
All the winning poems are available to read on the Tower Poetry website (www.towerpoetry.org.uk ). Further information on the competition and other Tower projects can be obtained by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning 01865 286591.
The Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes were launched following a bequest to Christ Church, Oxford, which provides for the promotion of the art of writing poetry in English. The prizes aim to encourage the writing of poetry amongst young people in the 16-18 year-old age group by establishing an annual set of prizes on a given theme.
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