The Keats-Shelley Memorial Association is pleased to announce the shortlists for 2021’s Young Romantics Poetry and Essay Prizes. You can see the three finalists in each category, and read the shortlisted poems and essays, below. Because the standard was so high, we have also asked the Judges to name essays and poems of high quality that deserve Honourable Mentions.
The shortlisted entries are now being sent to Simon Barnes, the Chair of the Judging Panel, who will make the final decision. We hope to announce the winners in early September.
- Listen to Simon Barnes talk to the Keats-Shelley Podcast about nightingales and skylarks - both real and poetic.
We would like to send extra special thanks to our amazing Judging Panel – Professors Sharon Ruston and Simon Bainbridge for the essays, Professor Deryn Rees-Jones and Will Kemp for the poems. They always deserve huge credit for their expertise and hard work, but never more so than in this year of all years. You can read their thoughts below.
We also want to thank and congratulate everyone who entered 2021’s Prize. Inspired by the bicentenary of John Keats’ death, the question posed to our Young Romantics essayists was how poetry can help us confront, understand and if possible overcome adversity. Reading your work, whether poems or prose, gave us enormous pleasure and considerable hope during these dark times. We hope that the challenge of writing them did something similar.
- Listen to Turner Prize-winning artist Mark Wallinger talk to the Keats-Shelley Podcast about his life, career and how his love of John Keats inspired his monumental art installation ‘Writ in Water’, which commemorated the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta.
- Follow John Keats on his Final Journey from England to Italy in 1820 in our updated, interactive Google Earth Map (the Director’s Cut).
Any questions regarding the 2021 Prize: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Young Romantic poets rose to the challenge of ‘Writ in Water’ in a variety of ways, some with very unexpected interpretations, and many with an admirable use of imagination. Many poems showed great touches and a keen eye (or ear) for detail, but the ones that stood out were those that seemed most complete, fresh and contemporary. These poems tended to be free verse and addressed the theme in a slightly oblique way. ‘Writ in Water’ was a starting point that allowed their thoughts and feelings wander. The poem itself sought to instil that sense of wonder in the reader.
We chose the three shortlisted poems for the following reasons.
‘A Craftsman’s Tale’ by Eustacia Feng. An effective and imaginative poem with rich imagery and variety by an accomplished story-teller with a keen eye for detail and an ability to thread a neat narrative between an engaging opening and a confident ending. Will Kemp.
‘Born under Scorpio’ by Shay Fallon. Sophisticated language and short units of sense combine to provide an authoritative tone to this aptly sparse yet intriguing piece by a poet not afraid to get in touch with their imagination and take on the whole universe. Will Kemp
‘Reverberations’ by Sung Cho. This beautifully pitched and affecting fourteen line poem explores the sonnet form with great maturity and confidence, using sophisticated line breaks and complex rhythms. Tightly written, intelligent, and with powerfully varied vocabulary. Deryn Rees-Jones.
Deryn Rees-Jones and Will Kemp
Highly Commended: Poetry
‘A Diamond in the Rough’ by Sofia Mirzoeva
‘Away’ by Hugo Jeudy
The Young Romantics essays gave us an insight into the way life has been for our young people in this most extraordinary year. Many of them spoke of finding solace in the poetry of Keats and Shelley and commented on how prescient and topical their poetry continued to be. The essays were impressive: a reminder that the next generation will build upon and improve on the mistakes of the past. Many of them spoke of the effects of climate change and the pandemic with the reading of poetry providing a much-needed reflection on our times.
Professors Sharon Ruston and Simon Bainbridge
Highly Commended: Essays
‘The Adversity of Dying: The Romantic Imagination of Graves, Epitaphs and Resting Places’ by Sasha Willoughby
‘“Sorrow is Wisdom”: Keats, Poetry and Adversity’ by Austin Spendlowe
‘In sickness not ignoble’ by Priya Abularach