Fenland poetry stars celebrated

L-R: Elaine Ewart, Jonathan Totman, Fenland Poet Laureate 2016 Mary Livingstone, Leanne Moden and Poppy Kleiser.

L-R: Elaine Ewart, Jonathan Totman, Fenland Poet Laureate 2016 Mary Livingstone, Leanne Moden and Poppy Kleiser.

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Talented poets and writers from across the county came together to take part in the fifth annual Fenland Poet Laureate Awards.

The competition invited writers to compose poems on the theme of ‘The Fens’ and compete for the title of Fenland Poet Laureate.

Younger poets, aged between 10 and 17, also entered for the chance to be named Young Fenland Poet Laureate.

This year’s contest saw more than 100 entries and judges were “overwhelmed” by the quality of poems submitted.

All entries were judged anonymously and the top 10 finalists in each category were invited to read their poetry at the awards ceremony, which was held at March Town Hall earlier this month.

More than 90 people went along to enjoy the work of the finalists, as well as a headline set from nationally-renowned poet and painter, John Lyons.

This year, the Young Fenland Poet Laureate prize was awarded to Tashi Marley for her poem ‘I am’. The judges said they were impressed by the excellent images in Tashi’s poem as well as the fantastic rhythm in the piece.

Second place was awarded to Jack Robb for his poem ‘Fenland Pillbox’ and Natasha Richardson took third place with her piece entitled ‘Spring has arrived to the Fens’.

There were also seven highly commended poets in this category: Reuben Cartwright, Aida Kahn-Blunden, Jenna Petchell, Olivia Pugh,Toby Rolfe, Beatrice Winder and Felicity Wright.

A special award for the best non-Fenland poem was also awarded to Katie Kirkpatrick with her poem ‘This isn’t what you think’.

The adult category winner was Mary Livingstone with her poem ‘From Maramures to the Fens’. She now takes over as Fenland Poet Laureate from Jonathan Totman who, as well as being her predecessor, is also her fiancé.

The judges said of the winning poem: “It took us out of our comfort zone by exploring the current social climate of Fenland with stark realism.”

Second prize was awarded to Matt Deacon for his poem ‘Little Treasures’, and Marina Yedigaroff took third place with her untitled poem.

The seven highly commended poets were William Alderson, Pen Avey, Kathryn Aybak, Gudrun Filipska, Pascale Palmer, Leah Spencer, and Rosemary Westwell.

This year, the awards were supported by Ely City Council, ADeC, 20 Twenty Productions and the Market Place Development Commission Fund.