Gail McConnell and Jo Young win Ink Sweat & Tears Competition

Poetry Society Members Gail McConnell (above, left) and Jo Young are joint winners of Ink Sweat & Tears/Café Writers Commission. Both poets receive £2000, a published pamphlet, 100 copies of that pamphlet to do with as they wish and a reading at Café Writers in Norwich in November 2019.

“With two poets, seemingly polar opposites, but sharing the distinction of being a part of, and yet outside, the worlds they inhabit, we cannot help but be excited by the possibilities.”

Highly Commended poets included Poetry Society Member Elisabeth Sennitt Clough.

The judges – Helen Ivory, Kate Birch, Jay Bernard and Chris Gribble – said of Gail’s poems:

“What struck and moved us was the ‘fragility and vulnerability’ in Gail’s poetry at what it is to be in a same-sex relationship wanting a child in a part of the UK – Northern Ireland – where same-sex marriage is not legal, where there is no NHS support for IVF for same sex-couples and where abortion is still illegal. This pamphlet examines what it means to be a non-biological parent (mother? father? fother? mather? something else?) in a queer partnership. It asks what queerness does to pregnancy and parenthood, and what pregnancy and parenthood does to queerness. And it wonders how we might reimagine parenthood without gendering it.”

and of Jo’s poems…

“Jo’s poetry created an ‘updraft of excitement’ on reading it. A former soldier (20 years) now part-time, a full-time mother and PhD student, Jo is a contemporary war poet with the unique perspective of being a woman in what is still very much a man’s world. The poems touch upon femininity from young womanhood to motherhood, they examine the joys of soldiering, the challenges of female leadership in a patriarchal organistion and acknowledge the harm and legacy upon soldiers and civilians when the seemingly unavoidable state of war is undertaken.”

The shortlist of six was:

  • Tom de Freston & Kiran Millwood Hargrave
  • Gail McConnell
  • Morgaine Merch Lleuad
  • Eliot North
  • Elisabeth Sennitt Clough
  • Jo Young

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15 February 2018