Catching up with our winners

- Sophie Gordon

A couple of months down the line from our awards night, we’re revisiting work from our two top prizewinners. And now their awards have made it to their new homes, Chloe and Sarah share their reflections on winning.

Winner of our Emerging Writer award, Chloe Biggs, impressed the panel with her ability to move seamlessly between writing for different audiences and genres, from campaigns to help young people find vital support, to personal work exploring the issues of race and injustice. On our awards night, Chloe shared one of her poems, Say his name.

Say his name

Don’t forget.
Once the fires fade
and the hashtags stop trending,
keep the embers alive.
Stoke the rage.
And get ready to see flames again
if we’re left without justice.

If ideas for change
shaped by a thousand years of pain
are dropped like a man from a branch,
choked by preferences of the privileged,
the world will continue to burn. 

A billion black squares are not enough.
A billion fists in the air are not enough.
A billion knees on the ground are still not enough.

Move the earth. 
Make beasts hiding in ivory houses swallow our anguish. 
Show them how our souls suffer,
how our ancestor’s souls suffered
and how our children’s souls will suffer
unless we turn the world around.
Say his name, but louder.
Loud enough to break down the walls of the master’s home.

“A huge thanks for my incredible award! It’s heartbreaking to hear of stories like George Floyd’s, and sometimes when you feel so helpless, turning those emotions into art can help in small ways – that’s what I did with Say his name. Winning this award has definitely helped to boost my confidence and inspired me to write more in my free time.”

Sarah Butler took the Project Award trophy for her A Common Place piece Flow. Partnering with artist Ardyn Halter, her poem is an immersive, irresistible piece of writing, and a wonderful example of creative partnership.

“Thank you all so much for choosing my poem, for which at least half the credit should go to Ardyn – our conversations over last summer took us down to the sea bed, across millennia and headfirst through the weeds on the river’s banks, and my poem was so much the richer for our collaboration. It’s feeding my current project too – a slow journey down the Medway exploring time, place, people and belonging. Thanks to Arts Council funding, I’m taking a break from writing copy and idling along the river, swimming, paddling, walking and talking to anyone I meet about what brings them there. I’ll tweet from time to time about my journey under #SlowMedway (@SarahLooseleaf).” 

– Sophie Gordon

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