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The winners of the 2008 Christopher Tower Poetry Prize | 29-Apr-08

17 April 2008, Oxford  The winners of the 2008 Christopher Tower Poetry Prize, the UK's most prestigious award for 16 to 18 year old aspiring poets, have been announced today at a luncheon reception at Christ Church in Oxford.

Eighteen-year old Emily Middleton from The King's School, Macclesfield was awarded the £3000 first prize for her poem, The Five Stages.  Winner of the second (£1000) prize is Ashley McMullin (The Sixth Form College, Colchester) with Journey to Hilly Country and the third prizewinner (£500) is Nina Bahadur from St Paul's Girls' School, London with her poem, Heat. 

In addition to the three main prize winners, four short-listed winners will also receive £250: Richard O'Brien (Bourne Grammar School, Lincolnshire) for Texting in Church, Amelia Penny (South Hampstead High School, London) for Quickening, Charlotte Geater (Northgate High School, Ipswich) for We Beasts, and Anna Savory (Fort Pitt Grammar School, Chatham, Kent) for Sestina 102 ; 26.

The 2008 competition theme was 'Change'.  The entrants, all born between 1989 and 1992 and representing every region in the UK, were inspired by the topic - submitting poems that offered a diversity of interpretations - from loose change; the ephemera of change; seasonal; evolutionary; personality change and more.

The judges included poet, Simon Armitage, whose memoir Gig was published earlier this month, Alan Jenkins, poet and Deputy Editor of The Times Literary Supplement, and poet and lecturer Peter McDonald, Director of Tower Poetry.

Dr McDonald praised all the entrants for an astonishing diversity of talent, 'The judges were particularly impressed by promise shown in the poems, where verbal flair and inventiveness were matched with impressive formal control.'

Since 2000, the Christopher Tower Poetry competition has drawn attention to the huge creative potential of young adults in UK schools. The Tower competition is open to all sixth-form students in UK secondary schools and colleges. Many of the competition's past winners have gone on to achieve further acclaim for their writing in other competitions or in the publishing world.  Its growing reputation for discovering fresh and exciting poetry talent is part of several initiatives developed by Tower Poetry at Christ Church to encourage the writing and reading of poetry by young adults. Other projects include summer schools, poetry readings and conferences, an ongoing publication programme and a website which is used as an educational resource in schools.

All the winning poems are available to read on the Tower Poetry website (  Further information on the competition and other Tower projects can be obtained by writing to or phoning 01865 286591.

Note to editors:

The Christopher Tower Poetry Prizes were launched following a bequest to Christ Church, Oxford, which provides for the promotion of the art of writing poetry in English. The prizes aim to encourage the writing of poetry amongst young people in the 16-18 year-old age group by establishing an annual set of prizes on a given theme.

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