Carol Ann Duffy chairing the Awards
Samuel Palmer The Harvest Moon c 1833 Yale Centre for British Art Paul Mellon Collection
Second-Prize winner Karen Hill receiving her prize from Poetry Judge Jo Shapcott
Harry Cochrane, winning essayist, receiving his prize from Essays Judge Professor Sharon Ruston
Essay finalists left to right, Thomas Coughlan, Harry Cochrane and Anna Mercer
The Keats-Shelley Prize, which was established in 1998, is an annual competition for poems and essays on Romantic themes
Sponsored by Beaufort Montague Harris and The Cowley Foundation
Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy Chairs the Keats-Shelley Prize 2015
The winners were announced on 21st April at an Awards ceremony at St Martin’s Crypt, London. The Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, presided as Chair of the Judges, and gave a reading of her own poetry from her latest anthology, The Bees. Humorous, poignant and engaging, this was the perfect prologue to an evening of exceptional writing talent, at which prizes totaling £4000 were awarded.
Poems Watchers of the Skies
This year, Poems were invited on the theme of Watchers of the Skies W, taken from John Keats' 1817 poem On First Looking into Chapman's Homer. There was tremendous enthusiasm for the subject. As Carol Ann Duffy commented, the entries were packed with stars, suns, galaxies, clouds, the internal skies of dreams, telescopes, windows to night skies and into the soul, sci-fi, winds, fantasy and general vastness… And that was just the start! the shortlist demonstrated particularly ingenious responses to some of these ideas…
First Prize went to Paul McMahon, for Tom’s Pouch of Cure-Stones .
Paul McMahon reading his winning poem, Tom’s Pouch of Cure-Stones
Paul was brought up in Belfast but now lives in Sligo. He has previously won the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize and the Nottingham Open Poetry Competition. His response to the theme was the lyrical and beautifully told tale of a countryman’s cure-stones that fell from the sky, a spell for his neighbours’ cows,of
an incanted bovine language
handed down from the wind that blows the slow dreams of trees…
The runner-up was Karen Hill, for her poem Sirius.
Karen is from the Black Country and lives in Lancashire. She is a lover of the Romantics and their portrayal of nature, and is inspired by the skies. This brief and original poem tells of her brother’s life-long searching of the skies: a quest for the nirvana through a childhood cardboard telescope, across the world, and now
for Sirius to fall to earth
and purify us all in liquid flame…
Essays were invited on any aspect of the work or lives of the Romantic poets and their circles. They were a fascinating challenge, said Carol Ann Duffy. She was impressed by the writing skills shown across the board, from both younger and more senior applicants – the style and confidence and close-reading of the texts chosen were admirable.
First Prize went to a Cambridge undergraduate and poet from Northumberland, Harry Cochrane, for his essay on The Romantic Dante.
The runner-up was Anna Mercer for her essay Beyond Frankenstein. Anna is a doctoral student at York University, and her work explores the literary relationship of the Shelleys and other Romantic writers.
Anna Mercer, Second-Prize essayist, receiving her prize from Essays Judge Professor Sharon Ruston
The standard of entries in both categories was very high: our other shortlisted poets included Jean Atkin, Geraldine Clarkson, Emma Harding, Ben Logan, Isabel Miles, William Palmer, Lindsay Spratt and Jeremy Wikeley, while our other shortlisted essayists were William Baker, Thomas Coughlan and Tuppy Morrissey.
A Special Prize for Young Essayists
This year, for the first time, we awarded a special prize for young essayists aged 16-18.
The winner was Stephen Horvath for How did Revolutions in Politics Affect the Poetic Revolution in 'Lyrical Ballads? He is a sixth form student at Westminster School and a karate black belt.
Junior essay winner, Stephen Horvath, with Essays Judge Professor Sharon Ruston
The Young Romantics
This year a Prize for Poems and Short Stories by younger writers was also launched. You can find out more about this on the Young Romantics page where there are also links to the winning poems and story.
Our grateful thanks go to our Judges’ Panel: to Matthew Sweeney and Jo Shapcott for bringing their energy, enthusiasm and creative wisdom to judging the poems, and to Professors Sharon Ruston and Simon Bainbridge for doing the same for the essays. We are also indebted to our Prize Chair this year, Carol Ann Duffy, who delighted in the originality of so many of the entries and provided such a stimulating introduction to the Awards Ceremony. To read more about Carol Ann Duffy and her work, go to Sheer Poetry.
Winning poems from previous years are on the Poetry Gallery page