Press release: 30 June 2008

The Hamish Canham Poetry Prize – an exciting boost for Poetry Society member Gill Learner

This year’s Hamish Canham Poetry Prize winner, Gill Learner, began writing poetry after winning membership of the Poetry Society in a limerick competition in The Independent back in 2001. Since then, she has been published in competition anthologies and journals.

Being a member of the Poetry Society has been an incredibly valuable boost for Learner. As she explains:

"Becoming a member of the Poetry Society started an obsession with contemporary verse: trying to write it and, above all, reading it. Suddenly I felt part of a huge but extremely varied community. I particularly enjoyed receiving Poetry News each quarter, with its members’ poems, and was overjoyed when my first ever published poem appeared there in summer 2002. Since then there have been many rejections and some successes, but winning the Hamish Canham Poetry Prize is the most exciting boost I could wish for."

The Hamish Canham Poetry Prize is awarded for the best Poetry Society members’ poem printed in Poetry News, the quarterly newspaper for members. For many of the past winners, the prize is a valuable endorsement of their work, and provides invaluable encouragement to pursue their poetic ambitions.

Learner’s poem, ‘About the Olden Days’ was chosen out of more than 500 poems by a panel of judges (chaired by Carole Satyarmuti) for "its original perspective and language". Responding to the theme of the environment it presents a picture of a future world without rain:

"Explain drizzle, scattered showers, cats-and-dogs.
Please, before we burn, tell me about rain"

The winning poem will also be the Poetry Society’s poem of the month from July 1 2008 on the Poetry Society website at, where it could be read by up to 45,000 people.

Hamish Canham was a psychologist and writer with a passion for poetry who died in 2003. The annual £300 prize, awarded for the best members’ poem published in Poetry News, is endowed by his parents in his memory.

Thanks to the generosity of Sheena and Hugh Canham, this is the fifth year in which the Hamish Canham Poetry Prize has been awarded for the best members’ poem appearing in Poetry News during the previous year.  Each quarter, well over 500 poems are submitted for publication in Poetry News.

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Notes to Editors

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  • · In 2009 the Poetry Society will celebrate its centenary.

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