The 12th Christopher Tower Poetry Prize competition’s theme was ‘Voyages’ – launched last November at the 23rd Aldeburgh Poetry Festival. The entrants (all born between 1994 and 1996) came from every part of the UK – 356 schools were represented.
At a lunchtime reception in Christ Church, Oxford on Thursday 19 April, seventeen year-old Sarah Fletcher, from The American School in London, won the £3,000 first prize for her poem Papa’s Epilogue. The judges were the poets Christopher Reid, Don Paterson, and Peter McDonald.
The winner of the second (£1,000) prize is Bethan Smith, from South Essex College with Balloon-song and the third prizewinner (£500) is Millie Guille (St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, Berkshire) with Maiden Voyage.
The other short-listed winners, who each received £250 were: Hannah Tran (Dalriada Grammar School, Co.Antrim), Lucy Hely-Hutchinson (Benenden School, Kent) and Jack Whitehead (Wells Cathedral School, Somerset).
One of the judges, Christopher Reid, winner of the 2009 Costa Book Awards with A Scattering said that ‘I was delighted by the adventurous spirit of so many of our young voyagers, who took us to surprising places, sometimes by highly imaginative means of transport.’ The sea, life’s journeying, voyages through time were all used to good effect.
Now in its twelfth 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. Previous prizewinners such as Caroline Bird, Helen Mort (who will co-judge the 2012 Foyle Young Poets competition with Christopher Reid), Richard O’Brien, Charlotte Runcie, Anna Lewis and Annie Katchinska are now gaining further acclaim in other competitions or within the publishing/ writing world. The competition 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, conferences, an ongoing publication programme and website, which is used as an educational resource in schools. The next event will be Professor Sir Geoffrey Hill in conversation with Dr Peter McDonald on W.B. Yeats in Christ Church on Wednesday 9 May at 5.30pm.
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 from firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01865 286591. Follow us on Twitter @TowerPoetry or on our Facebook page http://on.fb.me/HrGdyZ.
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