Fenland Poet Laureate crown for Jonathan while Harriet is named Young Poet Laureate at Wisbech ceremony

Fenland Young Poet Laureate 2015 Harriet Munson.

Fenland Young Poet Laureate 2015 Harriet Munson. - Credit: Archant

The winners of this year’s Fenland Poet Laureate and Young Poet Laureate have been announced.

The Young Poet Laureate finalists.

The Young Poet Laureate finalists. - Credit: Archant

The poetry competition, in its fourth year, received more than 130 entries. The finalists in each category were invited to read their poetry at the awards ceremony, which took place at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

The winner of the adult category was Jonathan Totman, of Ely, for his poem ‘Wicken Fen’. It impressed the judges with its subtle, deliberate pacing and haunting sparseness, which perfectly expressed the feeling of walking in the Fens.

Upon receiving the award, he said: “I’m over the moon – and still can’t quite believe it.”

As Fenland Poet Laureate, he will write poetry for local events and raise the profile of literary and creative writing throughout the Fens.

The adult Fenland Poet Laureate finalists.

The adult Fenland Poet Laureate finalists. - Credit: Archant


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The junior category, for people aged 10 to 17, was won by 15 year-old Wisbech Grammar School student Harriet Munson for her poem ‘Incongruous’. It wowed judges with its vivid imagery, which beautifully captured the spirit of the Fens.

The judges also gave out a special merit prize, for the best non-Fenland poem, which was awarded to Cassandra Silva for her poem ‘My Box > Your Box’.

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The competition receives support from ADeC and the Wisbech and Fenland Museum, and funding from the Wisbech Town Council and the Friends of the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

Fenland Poet Laureate JonathanTotman holding his award, alongside the Mayor and Mayoress of Wisbech

Fenland Poet Laureate JonathanTotman holding his award, alongside the Mayor and Mayoress of Wisbech (Councillor and Mrs Hill). - Credit: Archant

RESULTS

Young Fenland Poet Laureate:

1st place – Harriet Munson ‘Incongruous’

2nd place – Alex Florance ‘Play Time’

3rd place – Anna Kober ‘Four Seasons in a Feather’

Highly commended:

Joe Bunker ‘Fenland Beauty’

Sana Khan ‘Sunsets’

Alice Pealling ‘Fenland Beauty’

Georgina Puttock ‘Fenland’

Rajveer Sira ‘If only we could freeze time’

Kristina Tunnard ‘If I were’

Kenzie Whyatt ‘Ribbon River’

Fenland Poet Laureate:

1st place – Jonathan Totman ‘Wicken Fen’

2nd place (Joint) – William Alderson ‘Silt Road’

2nd place (Joint) – Miriam Brown ‘On Glimpsing Etheldreda’

3rd place – David Kerridge ‘It Rained’

Highly commended:

Josh Bone ‘Bulrush Eyes’

Nigel Hilliam ‘Black Shuck’

Alan Irving ‘The Greatest Ouse’

Helen Pletts ‘Cornelius Vermuyden’

Martin Simmonds ‘The Great Ouse Cut-Off Channel’

Dominic O’Sullivan ‘Fen Blow’

Wicken Fen by Jonathan Totman

Then our love shunned the heights

for this maze of reed beds,

this making-our-way

along duckboard webs:

loosestrife, water mint,

stonewort, sedge.

Then it lived on the suck-

unsuck of shoes in sludge,

on warm wet socks

and thermos flasks, the chance

of a barn owl with the gathering

dusk. Then still, we ached:

me, hunched up like a birder

in a hide,

locked on what could be

a harrier, hunkered down

against the wind; a clutch

of chicks; a plastic bag. And you

under your raincoat hood,

seeking traces of life in the scrub:

a burrow, a nest, a mitten

thrown from a pram.

Willowherb, fern, then

quick, a muntjac deer,

bursting from a thicket

just at the moment

my head was turned -

marsh-coloured eyes

looking everywhere

but you. Then still,

still, we walked.

Incongruous by Harriet Munson

Not a picture postcard but a story that unfolds,

Unravelled from these lands, a rich historic tale.

Many memorable footprints have walked

Upon these boggy lands which have been proved

Too mighty for nearly them all.

Not a picture postcard but a story that unfolds,

Even the prolific Romans were defeated

By these forbidding soil scapes.

The adventurous King John, too, fell to its prey

Along with his crown jewels;

A sparkling mystery to this day.

Not a picture postcard but a story that unfolds,

The conquering cathedral, the stone ship of the Fens,

Presumed to sail on the flooded marsh forever,

Until grounded by the God of the Fens,

Vermuyden.

Who drained it to its contemporary glory,

Brining life to this believed platitudinous place.

Not a picture postcard

But an incongruous story to be told.

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