Sarah Barr wins National Memory Day poetry competition

Sarah Barr & Kathy Miles

Poetry Society Member Sarah Barr is the winner of this year’s National Memory Day poetry competition for her poem ‘Fog’, and there was further success for fellow member Kathy Miles who was third for ‘Brock’.

Poetry Society Member Tony Ward won first prize ‘What Will Survive of Us’ in the Best Poem by a Primary Carer section.

The competition was launched during Dementia Action Week and is part of a wider project which celebrates the power of poetry for those living with and affected by dementia. It’s unique in that it not only recognises the creative writing of those who care for those living with memory loss but it invests the fees paid by entrants to enter the competition into a continuing programme to place specially trained practising poets into community settings for dementia care across the country. It is the creation of a partnership of Literature Works, the Poetry Archive and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Dr Miriam Darlington, judge:

“Fog’s use of the first person most powerfully evoked the experience of the loss of memory. Its apparent simplicity, on re-reading, yielded a tenderly and lightly drawn complexity – difficult to render within a relatively short poem.”

Sarah on ‘Fog’:

“Fog is a poem I started imagining as I walked through the town where I live on a densely foggy, winter’s day nearly two years ago. The experience led me to dwell on ideas about individual and collective memory, and memory loss.”

Kathy on ‘Brock’:

“My father suffered from dementia in his later years. Whilst my poem uses a rather surreal metaphor to explore the issues of memory loss and dementia, I have seen at first hand the types of hallucination sometimes experienced by people living with memory loss, and it was these that inspired the poem.”

Sarah’s poems have appeared in many anthologies including The Templar Press Anthology 2016; The Bridport Prize anthologies 2010 & 2016;  Second Place Rosette (Emma Press, 2018) and in magazines including The Frogmore Papers; The Interpreter’s House; Other Poetry; South, Poems in the Waiting Room, and online on the Poetry Society website; Meniscus; And Other Poems. Poems for children have appeared in various places including in The Caterpillar.

Kathy’s third collection of poetry, Gardening With Deer, was published by Cinnamon Press in 2016, and she has recently published a short pamphlet, Inside the Animal House, with Rack Press. Her work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, and she is a previous winner of the Welsh Poetry Competition, the Wells Literature Competition and the Bridport Prize. Kathy frequently reads at events and festivals, runs a variety of poetry workshops, and is a co-editor of The Lampeter Review. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, and is currently working on her fourth full collection.

The national writing competition has two categories: Best Poem, sponsored by Literature Works, open to everyone over the age of 18 years; and Best Poem by a Primary Carer, open to all carers over the age of 18 years, sponsored by The Alzheimer’s Society.

Best Poem

1st Prize: Sarah Barr, Wimborne, Dorset for Fog

2nd Prize: Janet Lesley Smith, Frome, Somerset for At the Hotel Metropole

3rd Prize: Kathy Miles, Ceredigion, Wales for Brock

Best Poem by a Primary Carer

1st Prize: Tony Ward. Eastbourne, East Sussex, for What Will Survive of Us

2nd Prize: Clio Burroughs, London NW2, for Twenty-Four Hours

3rd Prize: Pamela Swain, Essex, for Lily

Read more

7 December 2018