Judged by Bernard O'Donoghue, Carrie Etter, and Peter McDonald
Oxford, Tower Poetry, 2013
Yesterday, Azfa Ali won the first prize in the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition of 2013. She is an Oxford Spires Academy student, a First Story apprentice, and a talented young lady.
The Tower Poetry Prize, in it's thirteenth year, attracted over six hundred entries this year, which were whittled down by three brave judges to just six. The competition is designed to inspire creative writing and reading in young people, and has produced some incredible poets in the past.
In a small room at Christ Church College in Oxford, the six prizewinners gathered with Oxford academics, relatives of Christopher Tower, and their friends and families. The theme was "The Details" and the resulting work was beautiful. Azfa won with her poem, Origins, which includes one of my favourite of her passages, describing the journey of a refugee on a motorway.
Second and third place went to Sarah Fletcher and Erin Tunney respectively. Both are incredible in their ability to embody the spirit of characters they have no experience of. Miss Fletcher writes from the viewpoint of a young Dutch girl and her relationship with a German officer during World War One - a beautiful and evocative piece of writing. Also commended for their poetry were Kathryn Cussons, Luke van den Barselaar, and Eva Wallace. As the only male shorlisted, van den Barselaar should be credited for writing an incredible poem, Research, which conflicts the love and adoration of a woman's body with a voice that is dark and sinister.
I am incredibly proud of Azfa - she is a deserving winner amongst such difficult competition.