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And the results are in!

Updated: May 8

Hi everyone,


We are so excited and proud to be able to share the results of The Magdalena Young Poets' Prize 2022, as anonymously judged by the wonderful Gboyega Odubanjo, who had to make some really tough decisions. Here goes!


1st Prize – ‘Body Work and Mother Earth' by Kitty Hawkins, aged 23, from Norfolk, who has received £200 cash.

Our judge says: '[The poet] creates a harrowing song of desolation. Amidst the "bitter shock horror" of the continued destruction of our planet, the "jackhammers harmonise" and the "dismembered countryside" is glorious. The shock and horror of the landscape gives a filmic quality to the poem; part of you wishes that you were being asked to suspend your disbelief, but instead you are being asked to reckon with yourself and the world around you. The "we" of the poem expertly illustrates our status as both enabler and victim. The certainty of death, the "bleeding out of time" leave little room for hope and maybe, if we look around, that might be appropriate.'


2nd Prize – ‘The Garden at William Street’ by Beth Davies, aged 24, from Sheffield, who has received £100 cash.

Our judge says: 'The form of this poem, the in and out of its lines, is a perfect companion for the journey that the speaker takes within it. With sure-footed confidence [the poet] is able to skip from one world into the next. The idea of "fairytale princes", taking us from a fantastical scene of adventure to the tender desperation of trying to connect with a family member, is brilliant. The garden turning into the "overgrown" mind of a loved one is an image that feels so alive even as it signals something ending.'


3rd Prize – ‘Chippy Wall, 9pm’ by Imogen Cooper, aged 25, from Birmingham, who has received £50 cash

Our judge says: 'It is always difficult trying to construct a poem which can be read in multiple ways and so it was a pleasure reading [the poet] achieve so much with this form. The scene set in the poem may seem simple, but in each of its readings new layers of vulnerability and trust are built between the characters. The resemblance of the two columns of the poem to two people standing alone (together) works well, as does the economy of language which manages to create such wonderful, surprising images such as the "cooling-grease-paper / moon".'


Our very special Dragonfly Prize for Potential, which celebrates outstanding promise, was awarded to Indie Laras Bacas, aged 25, from Bath, for her poem 'Batavian Soil'.

Our judge says: 'The way that [the poet] complicates histories in this poem is fascinating. At times, they are able to collapse time into something contained within a single relationship. Wrestling with language, geography and culture, the speaker becomes an archive of all that has come before them. The poem reaches out beyond the individual and into the questions of belonging and identity that we all, at some time, must confront.'


Gboyega also commended two other poems:

'Lancashire Moors' by Famke Veenstra-Ashmore, aged 20, from Cambridge

'Song of the Open Road' by Will Moran, aged 21, from Birmingham


On being our judge, Gboyega said, 'It was a pleasure to read all of these poems. One of the powers of poetry lies in its ability to bring you into worlds and stories that you might not otherwise have access to. In reading these, I feel like I have met people who I will always carry with me and I am a better person for it.'


Congratulations to the future stars named above, and a huge thank you once again to every young poet who trusted us with their words, and of course to our wonderful judge. You'll get a chance to hear all the poems in full – you'll also hear from Gboyega, who will be reading for us – at our free prize ceremony, where we'll celebrate our prizewinners and commended young poets, as well as the life of Maggie. We're still trying to get a date sorted for this, but when we do, everyone will be welcome to attend, so please watch this space!


We hope you're all safe and well.


Much love,

Olivia and Anna-May x







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