Poets from all across the world entered Wigtown’s annual poetry competition.
As Scotland’s National Book Town celebrates its 20th annual event, organisers revealed the festival’s international credentials with one runner up planning to fly in from America to attend the awards ceremony.
There have been 735 entries including from the USA, India, France, Australia, Netherlands, Japan and Scandinavia.
For the first time there is also a Dumfries and Galloway Fresh Voice Award aimed at providing a platform for developing talent in the region.
Claire Nash, who organises the competition for the Wigtown Festival Company, said: ‘We’ve had a tremendous response to this year’s competition. Jane Lovell’s poem Starlings is a superb piece of poetry and a truly worthy winner of the main £1500 prize.
‘And we are absolutely delighted that Owen Lewis, the runner-up, is coming all the way from the USA to join us for Saturday’s award ceremony.
‘The judges have all told us they have been impressed by the quality and diverse range of styles and subject matter in the entries.’
Marjorie Lotfi Gill, a book festival trustee who will be chairing the awards, added: ‘The Wigtown Poetry Competition plays a valuable role in promoting and nurturing the writing and the love of poetry worldwide.
‘The fact that it has Scots and Scottish Gaelic categories is tremendously important in sustaining these tongues and bringing them to a much wider audience.
‘It’s also a particular pleasure to have added the Fresh Voice category. Dumfries and Galloway is already home to a community of highly accomplished poets, but we have to make sure there are opportunities and encouragement for other talent to develop.’
Christine De Luca, who judged the main category, said she was looking for poems with an apparent simplicity, economy and subtlety – locking herself away and reading many of them time and time again before making her final choices.
Jenny Lindsay, who judged the Scots category, said: ‘The importance of preserving and celebrating the use of Scots has been a common theme in this year’s competition.
‘But what makes The Threit stand out is the clever linking of a concern for the environment, particularly declining populations of birds and fish in Scotland, with the simultaneous loss of language.
‘The poem is both celebratory of its subject, and a warning. I found myself returning to it again and again.’
Aonghas Padraig Caimbeul, who judged the Scottish Gaelic category, said: ‘I enjoyed reading the Gaelic submissions.
There was a good range of styles and topics. The final choice came down to personal preference – two that I felt were uncluttered and humane.
‘These two were “simple” short poems – they worked because of their clarity. There was hardly anything to choose between the two of them. I liked An t-ionnsachadh ògfor its directness and honesty with its assurance at the end.
‘I enjoyed Learag for the same reason – the poet drew a lovely picture of friendship and love as a father and child cut a larch tree together. The poem had an organic texture, speaking of the unity, but ultimate dominance or severance, between man and nature.’
The awards ceremony is free to attend and will take place on Saturday 29 September at 6pm, in The Print Room. All the winners will have the opportunity to read their poems.
You can see the poems HERE.
The winners are –
Main Prize (winner £1,500, runner-up £400): winner: Jane Lovell, Starlings; runner-up: Owen Lewis, As if it didn’t matter which way was home; highly commended: Robert Duncan, Evolution, Alycia Pirmohamed, Hawwa is Creating her Garden, Lauren Pope, Meditation V.
Scottish Gaelic (winner £250, highly commended £100): winner: Calum Rothach, Learag; highly commended: Anne Frater, Ant-ionnsachadh òg.
Scots (winner £250, highly commended £100): winner: Robert Duncan, The Threit; highly commended: John Brewster, Fife Zen, 1977.
Dumfries & Galloway Fresh Voice Award (£150 plus mentoring): new for 2018 and awarded for a body of work rather than a single poem, winner: Katy Ewing from Castle Douglas.
There will be two other poetry events at the festival this weekend. These are A Poet’s Party in The Print Room at noon on Sunday and Here is the Weather with Stuart Paterson at 3pm in the same venue.
This year’s Wigtown Book Festival concludes on 30 September.
For full details of Wigtown Book Festival go to wigtownbookfestival.com.