2024 Poetry Competition Winners Announced

22/03/2024 by James Keyes

This year’s Poetry Competition has come to a close, and the winners were announced at a reading and awards ceremony on Friday 22nd March.

The annual Dr Graham McFarlane and T E Murphy Prize for Poetry, invites staff, students, and alumni of Birmingham Newman University to enter their poems and share their creativity. Graham and Terry were the first Editor & Deputy Editor of Newman’s original Poetry Magazine in the academic year 1968-69 and to mark the 50th anniversary of Newman’s opening, they launched the Poetry Competition in 2018.

Poetry competition winners 2024. First and second place winners.

This year’s judging panel included Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Childs, previous winner and Senior Lecturer in Theology, Richard Goode and Jai Mackenzie, Senior Lecturer in Applied Writing & Humanities. The panel were impressed with the quality of entries, with Professor Child’s commenting:

‘We were delighted to receive a high number of excellent poems, keeping the standard set in previous years at a high level once more. Choosing the top three entries was once again a challenge and the judges would like to praise all the students and staff who put forward their creative endeavours. Thank you to everyone for the high quality of submissions, and congratulations to the winners’

Poetry Competition Winners 2024

The winning entry was ‘Softly upon this earth’ by previous Poetry Prize Winner and member of staff, Emily Walton. Speaking about her win she said:

“It is an honour to win this competition for the third time. This is not the kind of poem that I would usually write, so I’m glad that it has been appreciated.  I feel that we are ever so fortunate to have such beautiful seasonal variation in this country, and my intention was to create a sense of comfort and familiarity through the repeated use of particular words and phrases, to represent the seasonal cycle throughout the year.  This poem is written about a specific place, although it can be read in general terms as well.  My close friends and family should be able to identify where it is set.”

Read Softly upon this earth (PDF – 142KB).

Poetry Competition Winner 2024 - Emily Walton

Poetry Prize Winner 2024 and member of staff, Emily Walton

In second place was ‘Orchestral Earth’ by Newman student Anna Aceso. She commented:

“It is a pleasure to be awarded second place. It is wonderful that my piece has been enjoyed. As a poet who is currently establishing their place as a professional artist, this accomplishment is a real confidence booster.”

Poetry Competition 2024, Second Place Winner, Newman student Anna Aceso

Read ‘Orchestral Earth’ (Word – 381KB) with a link to an audio version of the poem.

Third place went to ‘What Loving Me Takes’ by Newman student Reign Marsh. She commented:

“I am SO happy to receive runner up as poetry has always been a passion of mine. I’ve always been a writer as opposed to an illustrator, as I’d say words can illustrate more than an image ever could. I never thought my entry would be seen as good, let alone being an entry that could receive runner up! I even doubted myself, and almost didn’t submit at all. I thank all the judges for understanding and taking the time to listen to my spoken/video poem, and I hope that my piece can help someone in a situation like what was described – everyone deserves support. As a counselling student, that’s always what I have wanted, to help others, same throughout my poetry pieces. I am so pleased to have been chosen, and my advice to others out there who need to hear what I did: “You are worthy, and you are better than you think :)”.

Read ‘What Loving Me Takes’ (Word – 381KB), including a link to an audio recording. Please note, this poem contains mentions of abusive behaviour.

The University would like to say thank you to all of those involved with the Poetry Competition this year and congratulates our winner and runners up.