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| August 21, 2018

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Peacock Poetry Prize: Brighton’s Young Poets Explore Alzheimers, Procrastination and Grief

Peacock Poetry Prize: Brighton’s Young Poets Explore Alzheimers, Procrastination and Grief
Georgia Kolakowski

In April we covered the run-up to the Peacock Poetry Prize, the competition which encourages young writers to explore the written word from a creative point of view. This year the theme, chosen by Brighton Festival’s Guest Director David Shrigley, is ‘hard work’, a subject inspired by his book of the same title. Before the winners were announced Pippa Smith, Brighton Festival’s Children and Family Producer, said the prize is “a great opportunity for young people to have their writing seriously appraised and appreciated. Our panel of judges reads and discusses every poem and it is always a struggle to decide which of our many talented entrants will be invited to the finalists’ award party where the winners are announced.”

This year’s Peacock Poetry Prize had the largest amount of submissions to date with over 100 young people submitting work. Of the entries, eight finalists were chosen between three sub-groups. The finalists were divided into 11-13 years, 14-16 years and 17-19 years. The finalists were Yasmin Conway, Cole Hodler, Lillia Hudson-Amatt, Sylvie Goodwin and Christopher Clay. The three winning entries came from George Linehan in the 11-13 category with ‘Working with Words’, Lottie Erratt-Rose in the 14-16 category with ‘Alzheimer’s’ and Amelie Maurice-Jones in the 17-19 category with ‘The Farrier’. Each finalist received a cup designed by David Shrigley.

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Kat Head, the Guest Judge of the competition, said “Discovering what the next generation of poets has to say about ‘Hard Work’ was an experience that ignited me. The emotional maturity of the poems is striking and shows the scope and individuality of Brighton’s up and coming writers.” The prizes were awarded on Wednesday 23rd May in the Brighton Dome Founders Room by the panel of expert judges. The prize was created to encourage young people to write and the standard of this year’s entries remained exceptionally high.

We have the winning entries for you to read here:

Working with Words
Written by George Linehan

I sit and contemplate my words,
And draw a blank.
Given a million, I can’t seem to put two together;
The sheer impossibility of stitching syllables stumps me.

A spark of an idea ignites my page,
getting hotter and more complex,
Then burns out just as quickly.

Yet, as I begin to abandon my task,
An idea leaps into my mind,
Regurgitating itself onto my page:
The mountain shrinks.

Ink glides from my pen as a skater on ice;
Brain and page become synonymous.
No harder task than sharing yourself in words: no greater joy than being read.


Alzheimer’s
Written by Lottie Erratt-Rose

What day is it, did I say that, when was that?
I don’t remember!

Confusion fills your body,
Like someone has grabbed you
And tossed you upside down and round and round and-
Who grabbed me? What…

Panic enters, smiling cruelly.
It walks up to you and squeezes you tight.
It won’t let you go.

But you push, and somehow, for a second, focus, and… it’s gone.
You’ve won, but-

What day is it, did I say that, when was that?
I don’t remember…


The Farrier
Written by Amelie Maurice-Jones

it’s an old and vaulted rhythm.
you’ve heard the story: man meets his enemy in animal
form. more muscle than all sea; a fur-coat that shackles
lust under bristle. strange baker really, and an odd
stove that hones toenails for a living. he is calloused with
sweat. he is him and hollowed
for a man. heaves in,
heaves out. indeed the frothy hot-spit of each horseshoe buckles
out a c, would-be swan and
outside, swan-clouds feed in, automatically cracked
by the sting of reddish dry. nasty surprise. the perpetual
striving of hooves and road-dust. others, abstract
a fortune for good luck.
this is how grief works.

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