The Tenth Christopher Tower Poetry Prize competition’s theme was ‘Promises’. The entrants (over 1000, all born between 1991 and 1993) from every part of the UK, were inspired with the topic and produced many poems with the hint of promise.
At a lunchtime reception, as part of The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival, in Christ Church on Wednesday 24 March seventeen year-old Emily Harrison (shown left and below), from Cirencester College, Gloucestershire, won the £3,000 first prize for her poem Love Has No Larynx.
The judges, the poets Stephen Romer, Michael Schmidt and Peter McDonald said that: ‘Judging was difficult because of the general standard of entries. We were pleased to see that the final six poems are so various in form and theme.’
The winner of the second (£1,000) prize is Katie Woods (John Taylor High School, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire) with Selkie and the third prizewinner (£500) is Megan Owens (Farlingaye High School, Woodbridge, Suffolk) with Jane Loudon.
The other short-listed winners, who each received £250 were: Jamie Sutherland (Winchester College, Hampshire) with Dear Dad, Julia Goroszeniuk (St Paul’s Girls’ School, London) with A Portrait Painted Scarfless, and Hugo Havranek (St Paul’s School, London) with Sign Language.
In addition to the presentation of prizes at the reception, Heather Uren, accompanied by Guy Newbury, gave a first performance of Feather-small and still, composed by Jonathan Pitkin. The poem, Villanelle, written by Sophie Stephenson-Wright was one of the winning poems from the 2009 competition and was chosen to be set to music by Dr Stephen Darlington and Dr Peter McDonald.
Now in its tenth year, the Christopher Tower poetry competition is one of the most prestigious poetry competitions in the UK, with a reputation for discovering fresh and exciting poetry talent. It is just one of the 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, an ongoing publication programme including the launch at The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival of A Tower Miscellany edited by Peter McDonald and a newly redesigned website which is used as an educational resource in schools.
All the winning poems are on the Tower Poetry website with their young authors reading their own poems (www.towerpoetry.org.uk), and further information on the competition and other Tower projects can be obtained from firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01865 286591.
Above, Emily Harrison being congratulated by The Dean of Christ Church, The Very Revd Christopher Lewis, with her fellow prize winners Katie Woods, Hugo Havranek and Julia Goroszeniuk in the Upper Library at Christ Church, and below, being interviewed for the Times Literary Festival.
Composer Jonathan Pitkin, with Heather Uren and accompanist Guy Newbury, after the performance of Feather-small and still.
All photos: Ralph Williamson
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