This year, the 13th Christopher Tower Poetry Prize competition attracted hundreds of entries from budding young poets from all across the UK. The theme was ‘The Details’ which generated a wide range of creative responses. The competition was launched last November at the Marlborough School, Woodstock. The 614 entrants (all born between 1994 and 1997) represented 313 schools, many schools entering the competition for the first time in 2013.
At a lunchtime reception in Christ Church, Oxford on Thursday 18 April, eighteen year-old Azfa Ali, from Oxford Spires Academy, was awarded the £3,000 first prize for her poem ‘Origins’. The judges were the poets Bernard O’Donoghue, Carrie Etter and Peter McDonald. First Story, who strive to support and inspire creativity, literacy and talent in challenging UK secondary schools and their communities and have worked with Oxford Spires Academy, said: Azfa is an incredibly talented young woman and there is no doubt she – and her peers at OSA – will go on to yet more success in all walks of life.'
The winner of the second (£1,000) prize is Sarah Fletcher (last year’s winner), from The American School in London with ‘Kraut Girl’ and the third prizewinner (£500) is Erin Tunney (De Lisle Catholic Science College, Loughborough, Leicestershire) with ‘The Devil’.
The other short-listed winners, who each received £250 were: Kathryn Cussons (St Paul’s Girls’ School, London), Luke van den Barselaar (Colyton Grammar School, Devon), who was longlisted in 2012, and Eva Wallace (Strathearn School, Belfast).
Carrie Etter said (when the competition was launched): "I expect 'The Details" to be a wonderfully fruitful topic. After all, one of the great pleasures of poetry lies in the perfectly precise or unexpected detail. I look forward to such encounters among the submissions" and said after the judging: “We’re pleased with the quality and range of our finalists and hope these awards will encourage them—and everyone who made the long list—to continue writing poetry.”
Now in its thirteenth 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, 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.
You can see the winning entries for yourself on the Tower Poetry website where our talented young authors read 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; on our Facebook page http://on.fb.me/HrGdyZ or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/christophertower1.
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