David Swann wins Binsted Prize

David Swann
David Swann

Stephanie Norgate has chosen Poetry Society Member David Swann‘s poem ‘Bulletin from Blue Yonder’ as the winner of this year’s Binsted Prize, part of the South Downs Poetry Festival. Fellow Poetry Society Members Pat Murgatroyd (‘Teaching Refugees in the Church Hall’) and Sue Davies (‘Stonewalling’) are second and third respectively.


In this time of lockdown and fear, it was heartening to read so many good poems and find that poetry, as ever, is the fittest form to respond to the complexities of our private and public worlds.

The winning poem, ‘Bulletin from Blue Yonder’, beckoned me instantly with its combination of narrative, imagistic scene-setting and metaphysical questioning. The poem unreels like a short film which I want to rewind repeatedly. The second prize winner, ‘Teaching Refugees in the Church Hall’, uses finely observed imagery to show through different time layers how we endeavour to help each other against the odds. In third place, ‘Stonewalling’ evokes a lost relationship through the making of a drystone wall; the mesh of the man-made and natural was powerfully rendered.

Many congratulations also to the writers of the Highly Commended and Commended poems, which early on found their way from the ‘Possible’ to ‘Yes’ folder. I read the last fifty poems repeatedly to arrive at those selected for the anthology and enjoyed the variety of approaches.

David was also Highly Commended for a second poem ‘Midsummer on Tenantry Down’ alongside fellow Poetry Society Member Pat Childerhouse for ‘derive’.

Included on the Commended list of poets are Poetry Society Members Sue Spiers (‘How to Find the One’), Carolyn King (‘Jam’) and Richard Stillman ‘(Hyacinths’).

The winning poems and the poems of the Highly Commended and Commended poets will be published in the competition anthology, which will be available for purchase. The organisers are hopeful that the poetry evening to celebrate the winning poems and hear the poets and the judge read may be held later in the year.

David Swann was commended in the National Poetry Competition 2003 and 2012. His book, The Privilege of Rain (Waterloo Press, 2010), was shortlisted for The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry 2010. His short stories and poems have been widely published and won many awards, including five successes at the Bridport Prize.

South Downs Poetry Festival spans many miles: the length and breadth of the beautiful South Downs National Park.

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3 June 2020