Talented young writers announced as winners of the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize 2019
The winners of this year’s Terry Kelly Poetry Prize have been announced at The Customs House.
The competition, set up in memory of former Shields Gazette journalist Terry Kelly, attracted over 100 entries from young people across the north east.
Sophie Barnard won the primary category with her poem, ‘Don’t Put Plastic in the Sea’, with Brody Wotherspoon winning the secondary category with ‘Thinking Back’, and Julia Atherley being named the post-16 winner with ‘Blue Hydrangeas’.
A total of 47 poems - including three group entries - were shortlisted, by a judging panel made up of playwright Tom Kelly, senior lecturer in journalism Alistair Robinson, Sheila Wakefield, from Red Squirrel Press and former prize winner Lauren Apery.
The winners were announced at a ceremony held as part of the Takeover Festival at The Customs House during the May half-term holiday.
Elizabeth Kane, Learning Officer at The Customs House, said: “Once again the judges had a hugely unenviable task. Tom, Alistair, Sheila and Lauren spent a considerable amount of time deliberating. We are grateful for the time they give this prize.”
Lauren, who acted as the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize co-ordinator as part of the Takeover Festival, added: “It has been a pleasure receiving so many wonderful entries from young people all the way from primary school up to university.
“This competition is a testament to the young artistic talent in the north east and I am so proud to be a part of it.”
Now in its fourth year, The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize was set up by the Kelly family, to celebrate the life of its namesake and encourage young people in the north east, from all backgrounds, to enjoy reading and writing poetry.
Head judge Tom Kelly, Terry’s brother, said: “Terry was an avid reader and particularly loved the work of Bob Dylan and the poet Philip Larkin and wrote many articles and reviews on both.
“He enjoyed regular correspondence with poets including Hugo Williams, Barry MacSweeney, Tom Pickard and Brendan Cleary, among many others. Hugo Williams said Terry knew his poems better than he did.”
The Terry Kelly Poetry Prize 2019 was supported by Scottish Power Foundation, The High Sheriff of Tyne and Wear, South Tyneside Council, Arts Council England and the Gillian Dickinson Trust.
The shortlisted entries have been published in an anthology, which can be picked up for free at The Customs House.
Read the winning poems below.
Primary Winner – Sophie Barnard
Don’t Put Plastic in the Sea
Don’t put plastic in the sea,
it’s just not meant to be.
Fish, turtle, shark and seal,
really think this food is real.
They eat it up in their tummy,
then start to feel a bit funny.
They get stuck in nets all tangled,
this they really can’t have handled.
So please don’t put plastic in the sea,
it’s just not meant to be.
Secondary Winner - Brody Wotherspoon
Thinking back, back in time,
it was never to be the same.
Tears broke out
just hearing your name.
There in your room,
which is frozen in time
as if it wasn’t true
that you aren’t there any more
yet you are the perfect part of me
that I just can’t ignore.
Each night awake
thinking of you
dreams await, yet are out of reach.
Tears caught by my pillow
as I call your name,
an emotion inside
I tried to hide,
impossible to say nor teach.
If only I could hug you
or just see your face
yet now only memories
to stand in your place.
She’s still in your heart
is what they say
which will always be true
yet I feel so far apart from you.
Post-16 Winner - Julia Atherly
Looking back, I see the small obsessions – the deliberations
bordering on annoyance when you failed to find the thing
to fill the space.
The plastic greenhouses, oak sideboards, and
the china cockerel which we joked I would inherit when you were gone.
So, when I came across those Blue Hydrangeas, and carried them,
priest-like through the cul-de-sac to your door,
I linked our lives with more than Christmases.
Flowers that made me the golden granddaughter for a few dog walks.
Those Blue Hydrangeas picked out from life’s little day,
Earth’s joys, and a vicar telling me that December is a
Good Time To Die.
Blue Hydrangeas which you planted
in a water trough a little taller than you.