Miles, a lecturer in Spanish, received the £5000 first prize for his poem, Captivity, at an award ceremony in London earlier this week, on Monday 20 March. The poet Jo Shapcott, who headed the judging panel, described Miles’s winning work – inspired by seeing a caged gorilla — as “a pure and concentrated poem, full of fire and detail… a compressed, taut poem of great power.”
Second prize, worth £2000, was awarded to London-based Dominic Bury for his poem Brothers, and the third prize, of £1000, went to the Irish poet Majella Kelly for her poem Sonnet for The Glass Blower. Seven other poems – including another by Dominic Bury, On the Theme – Fire, were commended by the judges.
The Resurgence Poetry Prize ranks among the highest of any English-language single-poem competitions. It was founded in 2014 by the former Poet Laureate, Sir Andrew Motion; the actress Joanna Lumley; the environmentalist and entrepreneur Peter Phelps; and subsequently with Satish Kumar, former editor of Resurgence & Ecologist magazine, to reflect their shared passion for poetry that investigates the relationship between Nature and human culture.
Speaking at the award ceremony, Jo Shapcott – President of the Poetry Society and herself twice winner of the National Poetry Prize – said: “At a moment in history when words are mauled and undermined by those in power, the Resurgence Poetry Prize stands for truth-telling; for resonant and imaginative language in the service of the fragile ecologies which surround and sustain us.
“None of us imagined this time last year that the future of our planet would look even more dire today, with the emergence of a new breed of leadership, at best casual about its duties of stewardship to the earth and, at worst, hostile and rapacious. But this is where we are and this is what makes the work of the Resurgence Trust – and the Resurgence Poetry Prize – even more important.”
James Sainsbury, Chairman of the Resurgence Trust, said: “Eco-poets show us our true place as a living, breathing, integral part of the natural world, no more or less than any other part – and this realisation, if its roots spread deeply and widely enough, may just help to move us all from consumerism to conservation – in order to save this planet and ourselves from the destruction which we are currently wreaking on all around us.”
Entries for the 2017 Resurgence Poetry Prize open on 1 May. For more details, together with this year’s winning and commended poems, see www.resurgenceprize.org