Michaela Coplen and Felicity Sheehy 1st and 2nd in York Poetry Prize

L to R Michaela Coplen and Felicity Sheehy

CONGRATULATIONS to Poetry Society Members Michaela Coplen and Felicity Sheehy, first and second in the York Poetry Prize judged by Sean O’Brien.

Michaela’s winning poem ‘Venus Victrix’ is described by Sean as:

…a subtle and musically assured dramatic monologue which revisits a theme that has fascinated American writers since Henry James and Edith Wharton – the American in Europe, in this case a young woman. The voice is engaging, her mood complex, and without quite stating it she carries out an argument between two mutually incompatible ideas of value – the financial and the aesthetic – on which her own culture and that of Europe uneasily depend.

Sean says that Felicity’s poem ‘Endnotes’:

…provided stiff competition for the overall winner in its treatment of the terrible death of a young woman who was protesting against the Alt-Right demonstration in Virginia in 2017. The poem balances unadorned language with effective use of the passive voice to describe the accident, along with a series of key repetitions – ‘How’, ‘The girl’, for example, and the omission of verbs to evoke a state of baffled incredulity. The poet refreshes – in a tragic sense – the idea that the personal is political, and that none of us are outside history or excused from it.

Great news too for fellow Poetry Society Members Michael Thomas, Michael Farren, Sheila Large (all Highly Commended), Will Kemp, Lindsay Walter and Jo Haslam (all Commended).

Lockdown meant that the planned awards event was replaced with winning and commended poets sharing videos of themselves reading their poems. There was a record competition entry this year with 1,139 poems submitted by 497 poets.

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5 June 2020