Fenland Poet Laureate celebrates winners at March Town Hall ceremony

PUBLISHED: 15:31 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 15:31 13 April 2016

A legacy of laureates: Elaine Ewart, Jonathan Totman, Fenland Poet Laureate 2016 Mary Livingstone, Leanne Moden and Poppy Kleiser

A legacy of laureates: Elaine Ewart, Jonathan Totman, Fenland Poet Laureate 2016 Mary Livingstone, Leanne Moden and Poppy Kleiser


Poets and writers from across the county came together to take part in the fifth annual Fenland Poet Laureate Awards which took place at March Town Hall on Friday.

Former Fenland Poet Laureate (2015) Jonathan Totman reads some of the poems he wrote during his year as laureateFormer Fenland Poet Laureate (2015) Jonathan Totman reads some of the poems he wrote during his year as laureate

The competition, which is supported by Ely City Council, ADeC, and 20 Twenty Productions, asks 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) can also enter for the chance to be named Young Fenland Poet Laureate.

This year’s competition received more than 100 entries and judges were ‘overwhelmed by the incredibly high quality of all the poems that were submitted’.

All entries were judged anonymously and the top 10 finalists in each category were invited to read their poetry at the awards ceremony in March.

Former Fenland Poet Laureate (2014) Poppy Kleiser mingling with the audienceFormer Fenland Poet Laureate (2014) Poppy Kleiser mingling with the audience

More than 90 people came 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 really 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.

The judges gave a special award for the best non-Fenland poem and, this year, Katie Kirkpatrick won with her poem ‘This isn’t what you think’.

The winner of the adult category 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.

“It went beyond quaint imagery of landscape and delved into the unrest and somewhat troubled mood lurking around our marshes, making the poem relevant to the ‘now’ of Fenland.”

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 Fenland Poet Laureate Awards project was supported by the Market Place Development Commission Fund.

Market Place is part of Creative People and Places, an arts engagement programme developed by Arts Council England with support from National Lottery funds.

For more information about the programme visit www.cppmarketplace.co.uk follow @cppmarketplace on Twitter or search cppmarketplace on Facebook.

Full list of winning poems:

Young Fenland Poet Laureate:

First place – Tashi Marley ‘I am’

Second Place – Jack Robb ‘Fenland Pillbox’

Third Place – Natasha Richardson ‘Spring has arrived to the Fens’

Highly commended:

Reuben Cartwright – ‘The Fens’

Aida Kahn-Blunden – ‘Fenland Poem’

Jenna Petchell – ‘The Fenlands’

Olivia Pugh
 – ‘The Fields of the Fens’

Toby Rolfe – ‘Swan’

Beatrice Winder – ‘The Fenland Storm’

Felicity Wright – ‘A Summer’s Day in Fenland’

Special Merit Award – Katie Kirkpatrick ‘This isn’t what you think’

Fenland Poet Laureate:

First place – Mary Livingstone ‘From Maramures to the Fens’

Second place – Matt Deacon ‘Little Treasures’

Third place – Marina Yedigaroff

Highly Commended:

William Alderson – ‘The Lost Fen Ragwort’

Pen Avey – ‘The Joy of Mindfulness’

Kathryn Aybak – ‘A Bird Creaked By’

Gudrun Filipska – ‘Bubalus Bubalis’

Pascale Palmer – ‘A Fowler’s Song’

Leah Spencer
 – ‘Sealskin Gloves’

Rosemary Westwell – ‘Journey Across the Fens to Ely’

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