Atelier East

Fenland Poet Laureate Awards - The Winners

Poets and writers from across the county came together on Friday 8th April to take part in the fifth annual Fenland Poet Laureate Awards!

This local initiative allows writers to compose poems on the theme of ‘The Fens’ and compete for the title of Fenland Poet Laureate, while younger poets (aged between 10 and 17) can also enter for the chance to be named Young Fenland Poet Laureate!

The competition received over 100 entries this year, and the judges were overwhelmed by the incredibly high quality of all the poems that were submitted.

All entries were judged anonymously and the top ten finalists in each category were invited to read their poetry at the awards ceremony, which took place at March Town Hall, in March, Cambridgeshire.

Winners in the adult category

Winners in the adult category

This year, the Young Fenland Poet Laureate prize was awarded to Tashi Marley for her poem ‘I am’. The judges were really impressed by the excellent images in Tashi’s poem as well as the fantastic rhythm in the piece.

Second place was awarded to Jack Robb for his poem ‘Fenland Pillbox’ and Natasha Richardson took third place with her piece entitled ‘Spring has arrived to the Fens’.

There were also seven highly commended poets in this category: Reuben Cartwright, Aida Kahn-Blunden, Jenna Petchell, Olivia Pugh,Toby Rolfe, Beatrice Winder, and Felicity Wright.

The judges gave a special award for the best non-Fenland poem and, this year, Katie Kirkpatrick won this prize for her poem ‘This isn’t what you think’.

The winner of the adult category was Mary Livingstone with her poem ‘From Maramures to the Fens’.

The judges had this to say about Mary’s poem: “[It] took us out of our comfort zone by exploring the current social climate of Fenland with stark realism. It went beyond quaint imagery of landscape and delved into the unrest and somewhat troubled mood lurking around our marshes, making the poem relevant to the ‘now’ of Fenland.” (For more from the judges, read the judges’ report here.)

Second prize was awarded to Matt Deacon for his poem ‘Little Treasures’, and Marina Yedigaroff took third place with her untitled poem.

The seven highly commended poets were William Alderson, Pen Avey, Kathryn Aybak, Gudrun Filipska, Pascale Palmer, Leah Spencer, and Rosemary Westwell.

In a surprising twist to this year’s awards show, Mary will be taking over as Fenland Poet Laureate from Jonathan Totman who, as well as being her predecessor, is also her fiancé!

“This is a real surprise result,” said Leanne Moden, one of the organisers of the awards ceremony. “But we always anonymise the entries before handing them over to the judges, and as a result of this our judging panel – Poppy Kleiser, Pete Cardinal Cox and Sue Burge – picked their favourites based purely on the strength of the poems. Mary Livingstone is a very worthy winner and we’re excited to see what she does with her year as Fenland Poet Laureate!”

Mary will have a remit to write poetry for local events and raise the profile of literary and creative writing throughout the Fens! Congratulations to Tashi and Mary, and to all the other finalists who shared their poetry with us this year!

Marina reading her winning poem

Marina reading her winning poem

The fifth annual Fenland Poet Laureate awards were supported by Ely City Council, ADeC, and 20 Twenty Productions CIC in March.

This year the Fenland Poet Laureate Awards project was supported by the Market Place Development Commission Fund. Market Place is part of Creative People and Places arts engagement programme developed by Arts Council England with the support from National Lottery funds. It’s about more people creating and experiencing great art in Fenland and Forest Heath: Brandon, Chatteris, March, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Whittlesey, and Wisbech. Visit their website www.cppmarketplace.co.uk to find out more, follow them on twitter or join them on Facebook.

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