Poets and they know it

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POETRY enthusiasts showed off their way with words at the presentation evening of a competition to pen verse about Wigan’s green spaces.

Local verse-writers got the chance to celebrate the borough’s amateur writing at the prize-giving for the Greenheart poetry competition, organised as part of the Words Literary Festival 2012.

Poets Bethany Whittle, Laura Taylory and Helen Kay at Haigh Hall (front left to right) with dignitaries

Poets Bethany Whittle, Laura Taylory and Helen Kay at Haigh Hall (front left to right) with dignitaries

Three finalists were selected to attend the event at Haigh Hall out of the entries received from across the country.

Before the winners were announced there was music from Wigan Community Choir and singer-songwriter Pauline Blackburn, and poems performed by Louise Fazackerley, of the Secret Writers, and Manchester poet Mark Mace Smith.

The first prize of £1,000 was scooped by Helen Kay, 52, who lived in Leigh for more than 20 years and whose poem ‘Pennington Flash’ drew on her memories of the famed beauty spot, discussing the transformation of industrial land into green space for activities such as birdwatching.

Helen, who now lives in Crewe, said: “I have many fond memories of Leigh, and definitely consider myself an honorary Leyther. I lived near Pennington Flash when I was in Leigh and I think it’s a very meaningful place.

“ I came to Leigh in 1983, the time of the miners, and I have very strong memories of how hard that time was and that is also reflected in the poem.

“I’m also thrilled that Wigan is supporting poetry and poets with a competition like this.”

Second place went to Wigan writer Bethany Whittle, 24, who is currently studying for a Master’s in English at Oxford University and whose poem ‘Between the Hour of Dog and Wolf’ is a gothic dream-poem inspired by the borough’s waterways.

St Helens poet Laura Taylor, 44, took the third prize for her poem ‘A Northern Delight’, which also deals with land being turned from industry to leisure use.

Bethany, from Swinley, said: “I’ve always loved books and I’ve been writing for a few years now, but I write more prose than poetry.

“I went to the Words festival last year and got a leaflet about the competition, then I was home from university on Christmas Eve and couldn’t sleep and suddenly had the idea for the poem.”

Laura, who only took up writing in 2010, said: “I’m absolutely delighted as this is the first competition I’ve ever entered, and I didn’t expect to come anywhere.

“The poem isn’t the sort of thing I normally write about, my poetry is usually more personal or political, but I enjoying walking here and when I found out about the industrial land being turned into green spaces that was something very close to my heart.”