New Poet Laureate & Poetry Winners

New Poet Laureate Chosen

Simon Armitage C/O BBC Arts

Simon Armitage c/o BBC Arts

We are absolutely delighted to congratulate Simon Armitage on his appointment as Poet Laureate. Many of us Hay Writers have long admired his written work (heaving book shelves with signed copies are a testament to this), we also pay tribute to his approach to championing poetry too. A popular, well respected poet, his down-to-earth manner coupled with a breath taking ability to see and write on the endless wonder of the seemingly everyday will surely find an even greater appeal over the coming years.

Winners of the 2019 Hay Writers Poetry Competition

poetry comp winner typewritter

Congratulations to all the entrants to this years Poetry Competition. Our thanks also to our esteemed judge, Paul Henry  remarking that he enjoyed reading the poems which displayed both a keen eye and a keen ear.

(All the winning poems, along with a selection of short stories will be performed at our FREE event 233 at Hay Festival 2019 – Wednesday 29th May, 5.30pm in the Cube – for more information please go to our EVENTS page.

The results and judge’s comments are as follows:

Joint-first:  ‘Apple Moon’  by Emma van Woerkom  &  ‘Red Coat’ by Ange Grunsell

Second:      ‘Private Earthquake’ by Jean O’Donoghue

Third:         ‘Afternoon’ by Helen Wright

“Most works concerned themselves with natural landscapes and were tenderly observed. Some were reminiscent of the Imagist School which was at the forefront of Modernist poetry in the last century.

This Imagist influence was especially evident in ‘Apple Moon’, perhaps the most self-assured of all the poems here. Controlled, vivid, spare and perfectly paced, it reminds us of the enduring modernity of that movement. (Double-spacing of lines in a poem suggests a stanza-break, the convention being to single-space verse-lines. However, I read the poem’s form to be two, distinct stanzas).

The very different ‘Red Coat’ finds the universal in the personal. The detail of love and loss, especially in the prosaic first stanza, is striking and brought back to a lyrical base by the second verse’s refrain. The phrasing of the penultimate stanza is the poem’s only weakness and is forgiven by the startling closing line. ‘Red Coat’ wears its matter-of-fact stoicism lightly but the grief its first person conveys is heavy and resonant.

‘Private Earthquake’ was similarly striking, in the energy and pace of its anguish. It took risks, both in its metaphor and its diction. Stanzas two and three were particularly strong. I was less convinced by the broadcaster’s intrusion which felt forced, though it did inform the poem’s narrative. Really enjoyed this poem.

‘Afternoon’ was tonally even and sensual, its subject-matter closely observed. It was the purest poem of the thirteen, capturing a moment in time, in the tradition of lyric poetry. That “only he” (the third-person chaffinch in stanza 3) could see “the hawk hunting the hedgerows” I found less persuasive; but I could hear and smell and see the poem’s heady scene.

Other poems I recall liking were ‘How the land lies’, ‘Bridge’ and ‘Sunrise Vietnam Sea’. I may well have chosen differently, and from others not mentioned here, at a different time. Competitions come and go. Poems last. There is only the poem.”

                                                                                                 Paul Henry – April, 2019


About thehaywriters

The Hay Writers : a highly active & forward thinking writing group based in Hay-on-Wye, the world famous 'Town of Books'. ✍️ In 2019 we celebrated our 40th anniversary.
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