19 October 2019 - 2 November 2019



Highlights from this year's award celebration


On Friday 7 October the Friends of Canterbury Festival held the Awards Evening for their Poet of the Year Competition and, for the first time, awarded a joint first prize!

This year a total of 391 entries were received, the largest number ever, and the judges, Luigi Marchini of SaveAs Writers Group, Patricia Debney, Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Kent, and Abegail Morley, Poet of the Year 2015, had a long and difficult time judging them.

Eventually these three wise judges chose a long list of 38 poems which have been published in an anthology, and from this they decided on a short list of 14 from which the winners would be chosen. 

The shortlisted poems were all read at the Awards Evening (wherever possible by the poets themselves) in the elegant surroundings of the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent, thanks to our sponsors the School of English and Centre for Creative Writing.

Usually the winning poet receives the University of Kent Prize of £200, plus the title of Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year, the second place receives £100 and third £50.  There are also two extra prizes; the Best Read Poem is awarded a bottle of sparkling wine (courtesy of the Wine Room, Tankterton) and the People’s Choice, the favourite poem as voted for by the audience, a £25 Prize.

However, 2016 turned out to be exceptional and the judges decided to award joint first prizes to David Attwooll of Oxford for his poem Midsummer Landing, and Jen Syrkiewicz of York for Love (through lidded eyes).  Third place went to Kerry Darbishire of Kendal in Cumbria for Notes in Lemon Juice, the Best Read was Still Life by Kathleen Jones of Appleby in Cumbria, and the People’s Choice was Purple by Julie Stamp from Dover.

Sadly, David Attwooll passed away before the Awards Evening but his prize money is going towards a fund being set up in his memory to help young people into the creative arts. 

The Poet of the Year Competition has grown exponentially over the past few years and is now truly international.  Here’s looking forward to it growing even bigger in 2017!

Copies of the anthology are available from the Festival Office for £5 each.

To read the winning poem click here.



Join our mailing list