Congratulations to Isabella Mead for her winning poem 'Rwanda'
"I've always thought of lyrics as poetry, though some may disagree… Though if by rhythmic word/sentences, one can take away a sense of emotion, a landscape, or a scene/observation in life, personally I would consider that Poetry… I would just like to say, I'm honoured to judge this competition for aspiring poets across the U.K. and Ireland, and look forward to reading through all of the applicants’ work, to find someone, who has a special gift for communicating & relating a time & a place, a special moment, or just free thought, that captures My imagination & heart…” — Julian Lennon
(Photo by Deborah Anderson)
Congratulations to Isabella Mead, Rachel Burns, and Rebecca Dunn for their winning entries.
The prize was judged by Julian Lennon, Jehane Markham and Seán Street - with Julian Lennon having sole final decision over the final winners.
Read more about the work of The White Feather Foundation and how they are committed to the betterment and conservation of life.
Scroll on for the winning poems and the Highly Commended entries for the competition and the shortlisted entrants.
Once in a while
a white Toyota
passes briskly through the village,
Children run after
the red rearlights
through rising dust
then settle back
to sudden gleams
and the smile
of the moon.
Winner of The Julian Lennon Prize for Poetry
Isabella Mead also won the Bedford International Poetry Prize (2020) and the Wells Festival of Literature Poetry Competition (2019), judged by Simon Armitage. She has been Highly Commended twice in the Bridport Prize (2016 and 2019), commended for the Cafe Writer's Prize (2019), longlisted in the National Poetry Competition (2018), nominated for the Forward prize for best single poem (2013) and shortlisted for an Eric Gregory Award (2009). Her work has been published in Magma, Mslexia and Envoi, and appears regularly in Poetry News. She holds a Masters in History of Art and is currently studying for a second BA in Language Studies. A former secondary English teacher in East London, she worked for two years training teachers in a rural area of Rwanda before working as Head of Learning at The Story Museum in Oxford, through which she leads a vibrant team of oral storytellers and creative writers.
I believe in the blackbird’s song,
the sound of clapping
as wood pigeons lift
from the sycamore trees.
I believe in the river’s constant flow
water eddying rock, sand and silt.
I believe in the cosmic shift
of a glacier borne rock
from Borrowdale to Crook,
the devil blue stone.
I believe my grandfather’s truths
his hands the colour of starlings
from the years he spent on hands and knees
picking at coal seams.
I listen as he names the plants
and flowers in Ragpath Woods,
bluebells, foxgloves and wild garlic.
I watch him collect honey from the hives,
I believe him when he tells me, bees are wise.
Second placed winner of The Julian Lennon Prize for Poetry
Rachel Burns was born in Newcastle Upon Tyne and grew up in a small rural village in County Durham. Her debut poetry pamphlet, 'A Girl in a Blue Dress' is published by Vane Women Press. Twitter: @RachelLBurnsme
No one ever tells you peace
Is a living thing. But I will.
It is an action, a movement,
Gradual but sure, stretching
Outward and pulling inward, always.
Peace grows. Like moss, like lichen -
It grows within the depths of places,
In their darkness and dampness.
It softens hardened edges and
Erodes ancient boundaries
With its thousand tiny hands.
It drinks in harsh sounds and regrets,
Pollution, the toxic-ness
We run from in ourselves. If we
Allow, it breathes new air for us.
Peace grows on things that we thought dead.
All is used. Those hard, cold
Places we never visit; somehow
Peace blooms there
In silence, but with certainty.
You must let it grow over you,
You must let it grow into you,
To overtake your barren efforts
Of containment and control.
It wants you to sit in awe with it,
Plunge your palms and eyes into it,
Learn to hear it louder than
Your self, learn to trust in its
Growing in those moments of
Despair and loss and fear because
That is the peace itself;
There is no order, no land that
Does not already belong to it
(If welcomed and allowed reign)
No place it isn’t longing to
Envelope in its soft, green touch.
Third placed winner of The Julian Lennon Prize for Poetry
Becca is an actor and writer based in Glasgow. She has been writing for herself for years, but has used lockdown to focus on her practice with a view to creating her first collection; Echo's Voice. You can find her on Twitter @itcanbdunn and Instagram @beccarobindunn.
Born in Liverpool, England, Julian Lennon began his artistic trajectory at a young age with an inherent gift for playing musical instruments. Those abilities would soon broaden into the cinematic and visual arts. As an observer of life in all its forms, Julian developed his personal expression through such mediums as music, fine-art photography, documentary filmmaking, philanthropy and writing. He has also been recognised worldwide for his humanitarian efforts as the founder of The White Feather Foundation.
Martin Connolly is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, consultant in social value and procurement, and founder of Folklore Publishing. He serves on the Council of Governors for the Royal Free NHS Foundation Trust, London. He was the editor of Secret Chords: A Poetry Anthology of the Best of the Folklore Prize, released in February 2021 to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK.
Seán Street is a writer, poet, broadcaster, and Britain's first Professor of Radio. He retired from full-time academic life in 2011 and was awarded an Emeritus Professorship by Bournemouth University. He continues to write and broadcast. He is also a Life Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Seán Street's latest book of poems is The Sound Recordist, published by Maytree Press in March 2021. Last year he published The Sound of a Room: Memory and the Auditory Presence of Place (Routledge, 2020). Between 2017 and 2019, Palgrave Macmillan published his Sound Poetics trilogy: Sound Poetics (2017) Sound at the Edge of Perception (2018) and The Sound Inside the Silence (2019). Other prose includes The Poetry of Radio – The Colour of Sound (Routledge, 2013), followed by The Memory of Sound – Preserving the Sonic Past, also by Routledge, (2014).
Dramatist, lyricist and acclaimed poet, Jehane Markham is co-founder of Rough Wind Productions and has produced several books, CDs and tapes. She has worked in Radio, Television and Theatre. Her work for radio includes adaptations of modern classics such as The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and Frost in May by Antonia White as well as original plays, Thanksgiving and More Cherry Cake. Lawrence and Frieda was an acclaimed drama documentary on the life of D.H. Lawrence.
"Jehane Markham is a true poet. Many of her poems glow like Impressionist paintings. You can taste the colours – a red cupboard hotter than love ’ the yellow dazzle of straw in a barn – glinting turquoise water and the tingle of silver." - Adrian Mitchell.
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