man watching a poetry video

Poetry scene news

Patricia McCarthy wins National Poetry Competition | 06-Apr-13

Patricia McCarthy wins National Poetry Competition for her poem about the Great War.

Out of 13,041 poems entered for this year's competition, Patricia McCarthy's 'Clothes that escaped the Great War' has been named the Winner of the National Poetry Competition. Poems were anonymous, and were read by the judges Vicki Feaver, W.N Herbert and Nick Laird. Patricia's £5,000 first prize, the £1,000 second prize for Jane Draycott and a £500 third prize for John Freeman plus seven commendations were announced by the judges at an event at the Savile Club, London on Wednesday 27th March.


Out of 13,041 poems entered for this year's award, Patricia McCarthy's 'Clothes that escaped the Great War' is the Winner of the National Poetry Competition.

These were the most scary, my mother recalled: clothes
piled high on the wobbly cart, their wearers gone.

Extract from 'Clothes that escaped the Great War' by Patricia McCarthy.

Judges Vicki Feaver, W.N Herbert and Nick Laird were initially struck by the surprising title of McCarthy's work but were soon captivated by this atmospheric poem.

'We loved the journey it takes - both literally, as the horse and cart piled high with old work-clothes trundles down the lanes, and metaphorically, as these clothes come to represent the ghosts of all the young men lost in the Great War. It follows on from the wonderful poems written by poets like Owen and Sassoon about their war experience, to show the grief of the women left behind.' - Vicki Feaver

McCarthy's poem is based on a story her own mother had told her - a memory of something she had witnessed as a small girl in Yorkshire, during the First World War. 'I am very honoured to win with this particular poem as it is a small part of our oral history, transcribed here into a poem - which will now live on,' says McCarthy.

Patricia McCarthy becomes the 36th person to win the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition. Since it began in 1978 the competition has been an important milestone in the careers of many of today's leading poets, with previous winners including Helen Dunmore, Ruth Padel, Philip Gross, Carol Ann Duffy, Jo Shapcott and Tony Harrison. The competition, which this year attracted record entries from over five thousand writers worldwide, recognises an individual poem, previously
unpublished, in an anonymised judging process. The judges only discover the identity of the winners after making their final
decision.

Born in Cornwall and raised mainly in Ireland, Patricia MCarthy lives in East Sussex, where she is editor of the poetry journal Agenda. She will shortly publish her third poetry collection, Around the Mulberry Bush.  Patricia confessed to rarely entering competitions, but decided to enter 'Clothes that escaped the Great War' thinking it 'as
good a gamble as a gamble on the horses'. It was a gamble that certainly paid off, as she walks away with the £5000 first prize.

The judges awarded second place to Jane Draycott for 'Italy to Lord' (£2,000) and third place to John Freeman for 'My Grandfather's Hat'(£1000). Commendations went to Edward Barker, Keith Chandler, Sally Goldsmith, Pascale Petit, Stuart Pickford, Robert Stein and David Swann.

The next National Poetry Competition will open at the end of April. Entry forms can be downloaded at
www.poetrysociety.org.uk. Closing date is 31 October 2013.

:: Back to Poetry scene News ::

Back to top Register for newsletter
Bookmark This Page