Ramona Herdman has won the 2017 Hamish Canham Prize with her poem ‘My name is Legion: for we are many’. The poem, one of twenty-four Poetry Society Members’ poems published in Poetry News between summer 2016 and spring 2017, was selected by judges Carole Satyamurti (chair) and a Poetry Society team of Sophie Baker, Paul McGrane, Mike Sims, Phoebe Walker and Kate White.
Speaking about the winning poem, Sophie Baker said:
“This is a poem that contains much darkness and despair – and particularly distilled into that almost too-much-to-bear final line – and seems to come from a very personal and specific experience. And yet it speaks across many interpretations, conjuring the sheer power of the emotions involved without betraying or compromising either of its settings: it is both a description and extrapolation or a biblical parable, and firmly set in, and relevant to, the modern world. We all agreed it was very deftly and viscerally done, and we’re delighted to be awarding Ramona the Hamish Canham Prize this year.”
Ramona Herdman said that “This is one of those poems that was really hard work!” and went on to describe the writing of the poem, which you can read over on the Hamish Canham Prize pages.
Herdman’s winning poem was originally published in the Winter 2016 issue of Poetry News, when it was chosen by judge Anna Woodford who set the theme of ‘Getting Out’. The Hamish Canham Prize is awarded annually to the best members’ poem in Poetry News. It was founded in 2004 by Sheena and Hugh Canham, in memory of their son, Hamish Canham (1962-2003).