Charlotte Beck, 13, and CJ Atkinson crowned, respectively, 2019-2020 Young Fenland Poet Laureate and 2019-2020 Fenland Poet Laureate
- Credit: Archant
Charlotte Beck, 13, from Wisbech Grammar School was crowned Young Fenland Poet Laureate for the year 2019-2020 and CJ Atkinson from March was awarded Fenland Poet Laureate in the adult category.
The Fenland Poet Laureate Awards took place on Friday at the Rose & Crown Hotel, Wisbech to great fanfare
Regarding the children's category, the adjudicators Wendy Cope, OBE and Lachlan Mackinnon remarked on the "imaginative and linguistically sensitive English teaching [that] goes on in our region".
They added that in the adult category, "the best poems showed considerable observation and, in many cases, a strong sense of the historical background to the landscapes they described".
Besides the overall winners, Lorna Sugden, Diane Calton-Smith, Jasmin Gaborit-Carter, Nathanael Wilson and Kim Allen were all highly commended. They, along with the Laureates, will spend the next year giving readings and workshops around the community.
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The event was hosted by organiser Elisabeth Sennitt Clough, with Steve Barclay opening and closing proceedings.
Combined authority mayor James Palmer and Wisbech mayor Michael Hill were also in attendance.
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The Fenland Poet Laureate Awards was relaunched after the previous committee, based out of Ely, stepped down in 2017.
Murrow-based Elisabeth Sennitt Clough relaunched and rebranded the event, locating it within the administrative district of Fenland, where previously it was open to poets who lived in 'The Fens,' a much wider and less-defined geographical area.
Elisabeth successfully applied for funding from Arts Council England and received a 12,000 grant.
Marketplace: Creative People and Places backed the application by offering support in kind. The large number of entries in both categories and the interest from the wider community will hopefully continue to build year upon year.
The prizewinners each received a copy of the inaugural Fenland Poetry Journal with their poems published inside and, of course, a trophy.
Charlotte Beck is 13-years-old and currently attends Wisbech Grammar School. She lives in Upper Marham with her mum, dad, and younger brother.
She has two pets and in the future aspires to be a vet.
Away from school and her academic studies, she enjoys lots of sports and is especially keen on Tae-kwon Do, hockey, cricket and netball.
She has recently been selected for the U15 Cambridgeshire County Cricket Squad.
Whirling in from The Wash, I cover the patchwork land
A cathedral breaks my assault, as I engulf the tundra below
But, who can break me?
Lone runners are cautious in my presence
Even the fearsome tractors cannot escape from my grasp
In days of old, men of Hereward knew me well, they used me in their quest for victory
I have seen armies come and go
Once on the ground, now they take to the skies
Aviation fuel trails are left, choking my breath
Tickled by their wings, I laugh as the early morning owls rise me from my slumber
They are hungry, and dive for their prey, but I remain unsatisfied
I chase the Ouse for something to drink, but it outruns me, leaving me in its wake
As the temperature rises, I roll away, revealing endless skies of purple and grey
But, for now, all I can do is watch this unique landscape
I'm Fenland's mystery shield
Originally from Cornwall, CJ Atkinson now lives in March and finds the Fen landscape hugely inspiring.
Feel the Fen Blow bey,
It rattles the bones
Through graves long forgotten,
In churchyards of stone.
The lazy old Easterly
Howls like a dog
Then covers the dykes
In a blanket of fog.
It reddens the hands,
Travelled from foreign parts
Who harvest the land,
Picking artichoke hearts.
Gets up the tails
Of the long-legged hares
That run for their lives
From the Gamekeeper's glares.
Swirls around the bench
And kisses the face
Of dear Molly Watkins,
At peace in her place.
Brucks up the fruit trays
Stacked high in the markets.
Makes pots goo a gutzer,
Snaps flowers in baskets.
Snatches the bread
From men eating dockey
Whilst sat on memorials,
Saddened with poppies.
The sky's blue as woad dye,
So stretch out your hand
And feel the Fen Blow, bey,
For this is Fen land.
DIANE CALTON SMITH
Diane Calton Smith has lived in Wisbech for over thirty years and has always been fascinated by the Fens.
Having written local history books and Fenland mystery stories, she is beginning to enjoy writing poetry too.
Lament For a Lost Fenland Field
A47 cars move unheeding by;
There is no corn, no wheat crop,
Just dock and scorched brown thistle now
To catch their wandering eye.
Planning permission no longer in doubt,
The farmer turns away
From where the golden corn once thrived
Despite the summer drought.
And now we wait while weeds grow tall
And pheasants strut and rabbits hop,
Yet better this, far better this
Than when the diggers call.
For they'll break the earth with steely claw
Then curb and road sketch out new lines
On this once living field,
Where game birds flee, to land no more.
Then houses come and wildlife yields,
Moved on to who knows where?
Human voices drown out all else
On this once living Fenland field.
Jasmin Gaborit-Carter is from Wisbech and a student at Wisbech Grammar School, aged 8.
Grey skies and white clouds
Birds with smooth fluffy feathers
Stars high in the sky
Lorna Sugden is a bridal accessories maker, and writer. She is currently studying for a degree in creative writing. She has lived in March her entire life.
A Fertile Voice
What to make of this vast, flat land
Drained of features, windswept, waiting.
At dawn pre-autumn mists whisper,
Rising from fields as songs once heard,
From a land with a forgotten voice.
Standing by newly formed straw henges,
A golden carpet marches to meet
Silent black soil, touching the endless sky.
A view that sprawls for miles without rest,
Flattened by the Dutch, abandoned by eels,
That silenced, slithered back to source.
A fertile stage which birthed a warrior queen,
Her bloody reign reduced to folklore half remembered,
Half followed as natural law, by webbed feet.
As we stand in the wake of noble resistance,
Tigers growl from distant cloudscapes,
Heightened by the call of Kites and Buzzards.
The voice of the fen echoes in retold stories,
Remembered when sunset lights burial fires
Dancing skyward; winged will-o-the-wisps.
Mourning lost voices, the sky speaks loud,
Building stature in fantasy landscapes, painted in
Cirrus blue, azure, indigo, in infinite air.
This recumbent land yields a fertile voice
A choir, calling from every swish of reed,
A natural orchestra filling the heavenly music hall.
What to make of this vast, flat land
Of ancestral whispers, waiting to be heard.
Dr Kim Allen writes poetry in the interludes between being a NHS consultant psychiatrist and shepherding her flock of rare breed Jacob sheep.
Powte's Complaint 2019
Four hundred years and eight since our last complaint.
We lost that fight, for us a sorry plight
The fens were drained
The water tamed.
In its place acres of pasture and wheat
Cabbage, potato, apples and beet.
Fields of daffodils, tulips and sweet scented roses for posies.
But once again we, the brethren of the water assemble.
Once more we quake and tremble.
This time we plead you heed
If not there will dawn a morning
When it's too late to avoid your fate.
There will come a day when the ice has melted, the seas will rise
And you will watch the land retreat with each rising tide.
Let distant forests burn and we will return
The water will flow over ditches and dykes
No more roads for cars and bikes.
But open water to row in boats or bog and marsh to walk in waders.
Your choice to act or not, don't seek to blame us
Just four score years and one
A single life and your time will be done
Ignore our message and your land will be lost, no hope of salvage
We will return to the fen
Our watery world once again.
Nathanael Wilson has just turned nine years of age but has always demonstrated a love of all things creative, in literature, art, cooking and music.
Reading is his main passion and he is enjoying developing his own stories and poems.
Dragon over the Fens
Fiery Flier flying over the Fens
Patchwork of fields; rape, barley, wheat, corn
Swallows swooping, sparrows singing
Blackbird in the garden
All small as a matchbox
In the eye of this great beast
Soaring through the sunset on shimmering wings
Apricot, auburn, peach and pink
Catches his prey, quick as a wink
There's another hunter out tonight
Dodge left, right
By the rushing river
Perching in the reeds
As perfect in the air
As the graceful swan who glides by