Retired Coal Miner Wins Top Uk Poetry Prize

In a striking gesture of generosity, this year’s National Poetry Anthology winner has given his £1,000 prize to charity.
Roger Cornish of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire is this year’s National Poetry Anthology Champion. He was presented with his cheque for £1,000 and a magnificent trophy to keep for life by the Mayor of the Borough of Melton, John Wyatt at Melton Mowbray Library on Monday 23rd April.
Roger immediately gave away his prize to Nigel Roberts and Richard Payton, representing The Cystic Fibrosis Trust. “I am delighted to donate my winnings to the charity. They do a tremendous amount of research and development,” said Roger. “I found writing poetry quite therapeutic after the loss of our daughter Sarah, who had Cystic Fibrosis.”
“The National Poetry Anthology is the most democratic competition ever,” said Peter Quinn, Managing Director of United Press, who was at the presentation. “We received over 10,000 entries this year.”
“Libraries throughout the UK display posters and hand out leaflets for the competition,” explained Peter. “This has helped to make the National Poetry Anthology the biggest ever annual free to enter competition in the UK. That’s why we always make the presentation to the winner at his or her local library.”
“It’s designed to encourage more people, young or old, to start writing poetry – previous winners include a schoolboy and a lady in her 90’s.Most poetry competitions charge an entry fee of up to £10 a poem but by making this huge competition free to enter we have made poetry more accessible to more people and, of course, that big prize is waiting for the next winner. And it could be you!” said Peter.
So if you want a free chance to win £1,000, send up to three poems (on any subject) up to 25 lines (including blank lines) and 160 words each, by June 30th 2015 to NPA Free Competition at United Press Ltd, Admail 3735, London, EC1B 1JB or visit or e-mail [email protected] or ring 0844 800 9177.
“We pick 250 regional winners who all go in the National Poetry Anthology book. They all get a free copy and then vote for the best poem. The author wins the prize and title of National Poetry Anthology Champion.  Roger was voted this year’s winner,” added Peter.
Roger’s heartfelt and beautifully written poem Mother is inspired by his childhood memories. It’s about the struggles his mother endured taking care of a family of nine. “My mother used to occupy us by telling us traditional poems and nursery rhymes that have stayed with me. My dear Mam had great morality, compassion and decency, which I tried to capture in my poem,“ said Roger.
“My interest in contemporary poetry came after studying A Level English at night school. I’m immensely proud to win this competition especially because my poem was voted for by my peers,” added Roger.
Roger moved to Melton Mowbray as a young man to work at Asfordby Colliery. From there he worked at Pedigree Pet Foods. Now retired he works part-time for Melton Borough Council and enjoys spending time with his family.
You can read Roger’s prize winning poem below, reprinted with permission of United Press Ltd.
It wasn’t in the poverty of having to burn your shoes
To keep your children warm, nor in the damp walls
Or peeling wallpaper, it wasn’t in the cutting draft
Through cracked windows, under warped doors
The hunger pains or even red runny noses
It was witnessing your river of sad silent tears
As you tried to protect me
In that moment our eyes met
In a before language look
It’s the desperate aching that poverty feeds
When you starve yourself for others
Cutting slices of bread thin enough for seven.
You thought you gave us nothing
When you gave us everything: love
Nursery rhymes from heart
Showing us another world in misty drawings
Across cracked window panes
Two hours before you died
Aged eighty two much reduced
Lying there so very small, I whispered to you
The owl and the pussy cat, went to sea in a beautiful …
And a single tear, a single tear, tracked down your cheek
Your last tear and I kissed it away
Replacing it with one of my own

Roger Cornish, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire