Young poets honoured in annual contest in memory of Gazette reporter

Back from left, judges and organisers Alistair Robinson and Tom Kelly with fFront from left, winners Lauren Aspery, 20, Finn Edmonds, nine, and Bo Buglass, 13.
Back from left, judges and organisers Alistair Robinson and Tom Kelly with fFront from left, winners Lauren Aspery, 20, Finn Edmonds, nine, and Bo Buglass, 13.

Talented youngsters were honoured as a competition in memory of much-loved former Gazette reporter Terry Kelly was a poetic success once again.

The Customs House, in Mill Dam, South Shields, played host to the annual staging of the Terry Kelly Poetry Prize last night.

Front from left, Alistair Robinson and Tom Kelly with all of the shortlisted entrants.

Front from left, Alistair Robinson and Tom Kelly with all of the shortlisted entrants.

The contest was set up in memory of the popular former poet and journalist, who died in January 2016.

It is open for young poets aged up to 25 and aims to inspire youngsters in the North East to embrace poetry, just as Terry did throughout his life.

Hundreds of entries were made in this year’s competition, with judges Tom Kelly, Alistair Robinson and Sheila Wakefield finding it difficult to whittle it down to a shortlist.

They were full of praise for all those who entered.

This competition keeps Terry’s memory alive and makes people aware about Terry and his work

Tom Kelly

Tom, who is Terry’s brother, was head judge, and said: “This year’s competition has been terrific, and the most successful one so far.

“There were hundreds of entries and the standard was so high, so it was very difficult to choose a shortlist and then the winners.

“This competition keeps Terry’s memory alive and makes people aware about Terry and his work.”

Winners were selected in three categories, with prizes for the best pieces of work from those aged under 11, 11 to 16 and 16 to 25.

Tom Kelly addresses the audience at the annual event.

Tom Kelly addresses the audience at the annual event.

Finn Edmonds, nine, was selected as the winner in the first category for his poem ‘Why?’.

Bo Buglass, 13, with ‘This Too Will Pass’ and Lauren Aspery, 20, with ‘My First Pair’, were the other winners.

Mr Robinson, who is a poet, journalist and lecturer at the University of Sunderland, said: “This competition gets better every year, and shows the standard and range of writing that is out there.

“It would have been there anyway, but the competition draws it out.

Alistair Robinson hailed the standard of entries in this year's competition.

Alistair Robinson hailed the standard of entries in this year's competition.

“This competition really does commemorate Terry and his full range of skills, and we are delighted that it continues to provide a showcase for poetry.”

Terry’s wife Val was among those in the audience.

She said: “The poets were absolutely amazing and so mature.

“The poetry was so concise, and you could see such a lot of hard work had gone into it.

“I think Terry would be over the moon, and surprised.

“He would feel very responsive to it because he loved poetry.”