Retired Head of English Takes Top National Poetry Prize

A powerful poem about the past has won the national Local Poem Prize and £1,000 for Terence Stanford of Coalville, Leicestershire.

This huge free competition has been running for many years and entrants from 10 to 100 from all the over the UK, many of them new to poetry, submit their work free of charge for it.

“It’s the biggest free UK wide competition on a local theme,” said Peter Quinn, Managing Director of United Press which runs the competition every year.

“The idea of the competition is to encourage more people to get involved in poetry and develop their talent in this, the most accessible and simple art form. Anyone can write poetry and it’s more popular now than it ever was thanks to innovations like the internet.”

Terence won this year’s prize with a poem about a local carpenter.

“Much of my work is about my early life and my locale because I have a strong affinity with the Coalville area,” explained Terence (65) the retired head of English at Ratcliffe College in Leicester. “I have a collection of poems on the theme of a sense of place which I am hoping to publish in my own book.”

As his prize, Terence receives £1,000 and a framed certificate marking the fact that he has joined the select ranks of national poetry prizewinners.

“It’s great that United Press runs this competition. Even though poetry is very popular, there are hardly any free competitions like the Local Poem Prize.”

Terence has been writing poetry for over 40 years and has had several poems published in magazines and books, but this is his first big prize.

“My poem Memento Homine, is all about a carpenter’s shop. It used to stand next to the leisure centre where I regularly take my grandchildren to swim but every time I go there, I think about that place.”

“It’s great that poetry like Terence’s can bring places back to life and both crystallise and preserve our sense of heritage and history,” said Peter.

Submissions are open for the next Local Poem Prize. All you have to do is put ‘Local Poem’ at the top of your entry and post it to Admail 3735, London, EC1B 1JB or email [email protected] or ring 0844 800 9177.

You can read Terence’s winning poem below:

MEMENTO HOMINE

For years, most childhood winter evenings I
Would sidle past the yawning gable door
Of Reg Baxter’s gloom-laden workshop where
He bent, when the orders came, gimlet-eyed,
Planing curled feathers of weathered timber
Cascading slivers of mortality.
Carpenter, Joiner and Undertaker
His once-gilded sign flakily declared.

Laid on trestles, the oaken coffin shone
As the blade-edge sliced through the circular
Wrinkles of ageing, each ring of years gone
Knelling the imminence of life’s closure.
A sharp rebuke to Golden Youth’s trust
In its power to brush off gathering dust.