The Bigger Picture awards attract international writers

PUBLISHED: 20:16 07 November 2014 | UPDATED: 20:16 07 November 2014

Winners: Trevor Breedon and Gill Laker

Winners: Trevor Breedon and Gill Laker

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One of Canterbury’s oldest buildings hosted readings of original works of literature inspired by The Great War at the SaveAs Writers awards ceremony

Entitled ‘The Bigger Picture: Reflections on the Great War’, the international competition was aimed at both poets and prose-writers and attracted entries from all over the world, including the USA, Denmark and India.

The evening was introduced by Professor Mark Connelly, an expert in British Military History from the University of Kent who presented a fascinating consideration of WWI poetry and its relationship to contemporary culture. He showed how historical fact challenges modern assumptions about Britain’s war poets. For instance, in the early decades of the 20th century, Rudyard Kipling enjoyed celebrity status while the now-renowned Wilfred Owen remained relatively unknown and unpopular, the initial editions of his poems only selling a few hundred copies.

The first part of the evening included performances from well-known Kentish poets: Abegail Morley, Geraldine Paine and Jo Field who had been specially commissioned to write poems for the occasion. Members of the SaveAs Writers group also presented readings from their own work.

A musical interlude was provided by writer Gordon Brenchley who performed a poem by another poet Bob Gates which he had set to music. Entitled ‘Chalk and Cheese’, the poem draws on Gates’s memories of Kentish hop gardens, a subject that perfectly complemented the surroundings – Canterbury’s oldest hostelry, The Parrot, a 14th century example of a medieval Wealden Hall House owned by Kentish brewer Shepherd Neame.

Sarah Sturt, Editor, Kent Life was among the readers who read excerpts from the prose shortlist, many of the writers living too far away to attend.

The poetry section was judged by Marilyn Donovan, a former Canterbury Poet of the Year. The winners were: first prize - Trevor Breedon for Merry Go Round; second prize - Debbie Sloan for Shell Shock; third prize - Miriam Patrick for Resurrection of the Soldiers.

The prose section was judged by author and Kent Life contributor Truda Thurai. The winners were:

first prize – Gill Laker for Restoration; second prize – Julian Gyll-Murray for Beyond; third prize – Robert Walton for Letter from Kriemhilde Stellung.

An anthology of all shortlisted entries will be published at a future date.

“We have been running this annual prose and poetry competition for several years as part of the Canterbury Festival Umbrella. We advertise it internationally and this is reflected by the provenance of the entries with the total number of entries increasing every year”, said Luigi Marchini, Chairman of the SaveAs Writers group and organiser of the event. “Our aim is to put Canterbury on the map as a centre of literary excellence and original writing.”

The number and high standard of entries this year was reflected in the winners who were all judged anonymously. For instance, Gill Laker (Kent) was Canterbury Poet of the Year in 2013, Julian Gyll-Murray (London) was the prose winner of last year’s Shakespeare competition and Robert Walton (USA) is a published author and winner of several literary prizes.

Because the competition has grown so greatly in size and popularity, SaveAs Writers are now inviting sponsors to help them fund next year’s event which normally runs in tandem with the Canterbury Festival as part of the Canterbury Festival Umbrella. Sponsors requiring further details, should contact Luigi Marchini by email at saveas@hotmail.co.uk.

Further information on SaveAs Writers events and competitions can be found on the group’s website at http://saveaswriters.co.uk.

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