Young Dorset poets celebrated at Max Gate

THE winning entries for the inaugural Thomas Hardy Young Poetry Prize were celebrated with an awards afternoon at Hardy’s home, Max Gate. The six winners came from across Dorset, and were all aged between 13 and 18.

This is the first year the National Trust has run the competition, with the support of the Thomas Hardy Society, but it has been so successful the Trust plans to turn the prize into annual event.

The judges were Dr Faysal Mikdadi, Academic Director of the Thomas Hardy Society, Professor Angelique Richardson of Exeter University, and musician and writer Virginia Astley.

The overall winner was Kitty Fisher, from Hook near Beaminster, with her poem Reading “A Wife in London’’, which judges praised for its wit, depth and poetic passion. Runner up Leonie Cobban, from Weymouth, wrote the moving poem, The Wind Watches.

There were Highly Commended awards for Aiden Phillip’ The Wind, Alice Padgett’s 1 March 2018 2.36pm, Eloise Cray’s A Walk in the Park and Eve Gilmour’s I’m Just a Tree.

Dr Mikdadi said: “The quality of entries was stunning. These are the poets of tomorrow. The range and depth of the poems was remarkable.”

Rebecca Paveley, from the National Trust, said: “We hoped that the prize would inspire the young people of today, living in the landscape which Hardy loved, to try their hand at poetry. We are very grateful for the support of teachers and the schools who encouraged their students to enter.”

Pictured: Four of the finalists, from left winner Kitty Fisher of Hook, Beaminster, Alice Padgett from Dorchester, Leonie Cobban from Weymouth and Eve Gilmour from Dorchester.  ©National Trust/Rebecca Paveley