The Mawby Prize

I’m so proud of my students, three of them from my Poetry 2 Weekly Class have come 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the prestigious Mawby Prize, awarded by Oxford University to the best portfolios from across the whole range of creative writing weekly classes at Oxford. They were entered and judged anonymously so it was only when the judges (Dr David Grylls and Dr Sandie Byrne) conferred that they realised all three were from one class. Apparently it’s never happened before. So we’ve just been to a very jolly lunch where the champagne and literary talk flowed and where they received their prizes (and I was given a large bouquet of flowers for my teaching). All their poems were praised for attention to form and craftsmanship mas well as for their creativity and imaginative freedom. Once they have had them published I’ll post them on my website for you all to enjoy.

The winner was Lizzie Briggs for her set of poems which included a rhymed/half rhymed and beautifully enjambed sonnet ‘Lines written on the bottom step of the stairs while holding a cat’. A delicately sensual reflection on mortality and ‘taming the wild’ with a ferocious twist at the end. I’ve just realised that she should send it off to the Keats Shelley Prize.

Second prize was awarded to Manda Joyce for her spare, meditative  sequence – ‘The Divided Self’- that grew out of a day school on R.S. Thomas’ A Mass for Hard Times, looking at the way Thomas used forms like the Mass to ‘structure consciousness’.

Third prize went to Jane Houston for a set of poems bursting with energy and (as David Grylls said) barely contained violence! The prizes were presented by Professor Jonathan Michie, Director of the Department for Continuing Education, and President of Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Here I am enjoying their moment of fame with them. I’m sure there will be many more. From left, Manda, Jenny, Lizzie and Jane.’

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