…and the winner is…
After months of anticipation, we are delighted to announce that Luke Allan has won first prize in the 2019 Charles Causley International Poetry Competition with his poem titled ‘First Winter in Iceland’. Luke wins £2,000 and a 1-week residency at Cyprus Well, Charles Causley’s former home in Launceston. Luke is a poet, editor, and book designer born in Newcastle. He studied literature and creative writing at UEA and Oxford and is former managing editor at Carcanet Press and PN Review. He received a Northern Promise Award in 2011 and was a finalist in the 2017 London Book Fair Trailblazer Awards. He placed third in both the 2019 Mick Imlah Poetry Prize and the 2020 Poets & Players Competition, and was longlisted in the 2019 National Poetry Competition. His poems are published in the TLS, The Rialto, Magma, the anthology New Poetries VII, and elsewhere. Poetry editor at Partus Press and co-editor at the journals Pain and Oxford Poetry, he has served as a judge for the Singapore Literature Prize, the PN Review Prize, and the Hollingworth Prize. He is currently working on his debut collection. Click here to read Luke Allan’s prize winning poem.
When making his final decision, Michael Rosen, our head judge, made the following observations:
“My personal take on judging is that I am hoping to find poems that will surprise me in any number of different ways: it might be on account of the juxtaposition of images, a way of writing or sounding that alerts me to itself or to something that I discover on a second or third reading, an alarming, jolting or moving narrative, a theme that emerges through the ‘figures’ being repeated in incrementally different ways, some kind of cohesion that I wasn’t expecting to discover which then reveals a layer of meaning that I hadn’t first apprehended.
I thought that all of the shortlisted poems were full of thought, care, feeling and a strong sense that language was there to be pushed and pulled, moulded and laid out. Nothing felt as if it had been left to chance or was just carelessly slapped down and forgotten about.
Read together, they were full of glimpses of landscape, reflections of the past, encounters that had left their mark. There was a strange unity about this which puzzled me. Obviously, the poems weren’t all written by the same person! Perhaps, this kind of reflective poetry has developed a tone that we are familiar with and feel at home with, within the poetry world. That said, there were one or two poems which made a conscious break with this tone and felt experimental. I will confess to being attracted to them.
On a personal note, several of the poems triggered off for me memories and thoughts that may one day turn into poems of my own. Why did your poems make me think of a once-close friend I haven’t seen for years, someone who I heard had had his foot amputated? I guess that the power of poetry is that it can do this. It can also suggest ways of re-seeing things and the combination of image, reflection and memory in this group of poems has made me excavate this unseen heard-about image of my former friend”.
Second prize is awarded to Penny Boxall for her poem titled ‘The Stays’. Penny’s debut poetry collection, Ship of the Line, won the 2016 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award for Scottish poets under 30 and a Writer’s Residency at Gladstone’s Library. She is a 2019 Northern Writers’ Awards winner. She won the 2018 Mslexia/PBS Poetry Competition, judged by Carol Ann Duffy, and she was shortlisted for the 2019 Alpine Fellowship. Her poems have appeared in The Sunday Times, The Dark Horse, The North, The Rialto, The Scotsman, Magma and Mslexia, and were highly commended in the Forward Prizes in 2014, and the 2019 Bridport Prize.
Her second collection, Who Goes There?, was published by Valley Press in 2018. She is currently working on a collaboration with renowned woodblock artist Naoko Matsubara, to be published in 2020.
She was a 2017 Hawthornden Fellow, and has held fellowships and residencies at the Chateau de Lavigny, Switzerland and Cove Park, Argyll and Bute. She has taught poetry on the MA at Oxford Brookes University and the Poetry School. Having worked for several years in museums, she was Visiting Research Fellow in the Creative Arts at Merton College, Oxford in autumn 2019. In summer 2020 she will be writer in residence in Tartu, UNESCO City of Literature. She works at Shandy Hall, Laurence Sterne’s house in the North York Moors.
Penny wins £250 and her prize-winning poem can be accessed here.
Third prize is awarded to Claudine Toutoungi for her poem titled ‘glacial erratics’. Claudine’s poetry has appeared in publications including Poetry (Chicago), PN Review, The Guardian, The Financial Times, The Spectator, The New Statesman, Magma, The North, The Tangerine and Carcanet’s New Poetries VI. Her first collection Smoothie is published by Carcanet. Her second collection Two Tongues is forthcoming from Carcanet in 2020. Claudine has worked as an English and Drama teacher and also as a BBC Radio Drama producer. For BBC Radio 4, she directed plays including Exiled From Paradise (Best Drama CRE Race in the Media Awards), Standing Sideways, Baghdad Burning and Being Mussolini. As a dramatist, her own plays Bit Part and Slipping have been produced by the Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough. Other work has been produced at the Hampstead, Theatre 503, The Cockpit and the Junction, Cambridge. Slipping was selected to be one of seven international works featured in New York’s Lark Play Centre’s HotINK series. Her adaptation of Slipping for Radio 4 starred Andrew Scott and Charlotte Riley and was a finalist in the 2015 Audio Drama Awards. Other work as a radio dramatist for Radio 4 includes Deliverers, This Is Your Country Now Too: Mira, several seasons of the First World War drama series Home Front, the comedy drama series The Inheritors, and dramatizations of Delphine de Vigan’s thriller Based On A True Story, Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Woman and Rajaa Alsanea’s Girls of Riyadh.
Claudine wins £100 and her prize-winning poem can be accessed here.
In addition to the top three prizes, there were five Highly Commended prizes of £30 awarded to the poets listed below, whose work showed exceptional promise. Click on the poem titles to access these prize-winning poems.
Gary Bills, for his poem titled ‘Thirteenth Note‘
Mark Fiddes, for his poem titled ‘Subject to Slight Delays‘
Polly Atkin, for her poem titled ‘Heredity‘
Jilly O’Brien, for her poem titled ‘My Mother never said to‘
Sarah Acton, for her poem titled ‘Brush‘
Further to the prizes awarded above, entries from the following poets made the final shortlist but did not win a prize.