Friday, 21 March 2014


Last Wednesday night, I popped down to the Wisbech and Fenland Museum to hand out the prizes for the third annual Fenland Poet Laureate Awards!

In case you've never heard of them before, the ceremony is part of a local initiative that allows writers to compete for the title of Fenland Poet Laureate, while younger poets can also enter for the chance to be named Young Fenland Poet Laureate.

Each year, the two winners are encouraged to lead projects to help raise the profile of creative writing in the North Cambridgeshire area, by writing specially commissioned poems for local events and organisations, and also through public engagement projects such as workshops, talks and events. The programme aims to establish new opportunities for the winners, and for the wider community, giving everyone the chance to engage with poetry.

This year, the competition was fierce, and it was incredibly difficult for myself and the other judges to decide on our favourite poems.

But I'm very proud to announce that the 2014 Young Fenland Poet Laureate prize was awarded to ten-year-old Florence Browse for her poem Liquorice Lines.We were really impressed with the sense of rhythm in Florence’s poem, and the wonderfully vivid imagery really captured the spirit of Fenland!

Florence Browse (with Elaine Ewart and me)

Kristina Tunnard came second for the second year running with her beautiful poem What is Fenland? and William Sinfield was awarded third prize for his wonderful pastoral poem Seasons through the Year.

There were also seven highly commended poets in this category: Hannah Lemmon, Ben Hamilton, Lucy McInerney, Harry Sayer, Rana Gadir, Macy Hilton, and Rachael White.

The winner of the adult category was Poppy Kleiser. We loved Poppy’s poem, Digging, which took the competition theme of ‘Fenland’ and looked at it in an unusual and compelling way.

Poppy Kleiser - look a little overwhelmed by her win

Emma Danes took second place with her evocative piece, Day Trip to the Fens. And - for the second year in a row - the judges chose two poems to share third prize: The Winter Night's Song by Helen Pletts and Excavation by Jonathan Totman.

Our six highly commended poets were Richard Powell, Paul Quant, Michael Riccardi, Miriam Brown, Deb Curtis and Rosemary Westwell.

Congratulations to Florence and Poppy, and to all the other finalists who shared their poetry with us this year. We had a fantastic turn out on the night, with the venue full to capacity, and it was marvellous to see so many people enjoying poetry and getting involved in, and inspired by, this fantastic local project!

The finalists for the Young Fenland Poet Laureate Award

The finalists for the Fenland Poet Laureate Award 2014

All images courtesy of Mark Harrison 

We would like to thank the following individuals and organisations for their support: Karen Harvey, David Wright, Atelier East, ADeC, the Wisbech and Fenland Museum,Mark Harrison, Ben Brown, Clive Semmens, and Colin Batchelor. We would also like to thank Wisbech Town Council and the Friends of Wisbech Museum for funding the awards ceremony. 

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