Resurgence Poetry Prize Winner

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Issue 306
January/February 2018
The Way of the Garden

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Resurgence Poetry Prize Winner
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Cover: Bloom Day Scan © Craig Cramer, http://ellishollow.remarc.com

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The Resurgence Poetry Prize 2017 – the world’s leading award for a single poem in English on an ecological theme – has been won by the poet Seán Hewitt.

Winner Seán Hewitt © Eamonn McCabe

Winner Seán Hewitt © Eamonn McCabe

The Australian poet Cath Drake took second prize, with the British writer Emily Diamand third. The result was announced at a ceremony during the Poetry in Aldeburgh Festival in November.

Hewitt took the £5,000 first prize for his poem Ilex. “I’m delighted,” he told Resurgence & Ecologist afterwards. He is currently studying for a doctorate in Irish Literature at the University of Liverpool, having previously studied English at Cambridge. In addition to the award, he will also receive a writer’s residency at White House Farm, Great Glemham, Suffolk.

Drake received the £2,000 second prize for her work Dhanakosa, Scotland. Diamand won the £1,000 third prize for her poem Bomb. Nine further entries were commended.

The judges of the 2017 awards, which attracted entries from around the world, were the poets and academics Mina Gorji and Lavinia Greenlaw. Both commented on the high standards of poetry the competition had attracted.

The Resurgence Poetry Prize was established in 2014 through the initiative and generosity of the entrepreneur and environmentalist Peter Phelps, together with former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and actress and campaigner Joanna Lumley, inspired by Satish Kumar, editor emeritus of The Resurgence Trust. The inaugural, 2015 winner was Filipina-American poet Luisa Igloria, and poet and Hull University lecturer Rob Miles won the 2016 prize.

Greg Neale, editor-in-chief of Resurgence & Ecologist, said: “The very first issue of Resurgence, published in 1966, contained a poem by Michael Horovitz, and ever since then an appreciation of poetry and the arts has been central to our work for peace, the environment and social justice. We’d like to thank Peter Phelps for his continuing generosity and support, the judges and the staff of the Poetry School who have administered the award this year, and, of course, the very many poets from around the world whose entries show the importance of the topics their work addresses.”

All three prize-winning poems can be read on the Resurgence Poetry Prize website, www.resurgenceprize.org/2017-awards

Sally Carruthers, executive director of The Poetry School, said: “The Poetry School was honoured to help the Resurgence Prize this year. We cannot think of a more valuable competition in the current time and were grateful for the thousands of wonderful entries from all over the world.”

The Resurgence Poetry Prize 2017 – overall winner

Ilex

Distracting myself, waiting for news,
I walked until I saw this white cluster
of holly growing at the base of a tree,

the stems yellowed, the angled clutch
of leaves like a bleached coral, a pale
antler, almost medieval, like a relic

unearthing in the gloom of the wood.
Later, still the baby would not latch,
and I came back to this holly, unhardened

by the sun, unable to turn the light
into strength. May it keep its whiteness,
may it never learn the use of spikes;

or, in time, when a crown is made of it,
may the people approach one by one
to witness how a fragile thing is raised.

Seán Hewitt

Greg Neale is Editor-in-chief of Resurgence & Ecologist.

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