Press release: March 26 2007

"A very affirming experience" for Mike Barlow as he wins the National Poetry Competition 2006.

Mike Barlow has received first prize of £5,000 for winning the 2006 National Poetry Competition with his poem 'The Third Wife'. Second prize of £1,000 was awarded to John Latham for his poem 'From Professor Nobu Kitigawa's Notebooks on Effects of Lightning on the Human Body' and David Grubb received third prize of £500 with his poem 'Bud Fields And His World'.

Mike, who has written poetry on and off since being a teenager described winning the competition as "a very affirming experience - a stroke of great good fortune". Barlow's poem was selected from over 10,000 poems by judges John Burnside, Lee Harwood and Alice Oswald.

Making the selection is never easy as John Burnside explains: "Judging a single-poem competition can be frustrating in the current climate. One finds a good poem and wants to read more of that writer's work, one longs for the complete collection, for the back catalogue. Yet it is oddly appropriate that our national poetry competition should revolve around a single moment, a single idea or vision because this, surely, is what we prize most in the lyric: that momentary attention to detail, that quiet glimmer of understanding, that sense of a particular here-and-now captured in a single, beautifully discovered metaphor."

It is only in the past ten years that writing has become a compulsive activity for Barlow and already he has achieved success. He won First Prize in the Amnesty International Competition 2002 and First Prize in the Ledbury Competition 2005. His first collection, Living on the Difference, won the Poetry Business Competition in 2003 and was short-listed for the Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize. Barlow has read at the Troubadour, Lancaster Literature Festival and Aldeburgh Festival, as well as smaller regional venues.

As well as writing poetry, Barlow has always practised as a visual artist, making paintings, drawings and wall-hung constructions. He belonged to co-operative studios in Lancaster for many years and currently works from a barn outside Lancaster, near the Forest of Bowland.

The Poetry Society was delighted to be able to present Mike's award of £5,000 at an award ceremony held at Dr. Johnson's House on Friday 23 March.

John Latham is an atmospheric scientist. He had for many years a Chair of Physics at Manchester University, and is now working at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado where he lives in a log cabin high in the Rockies and his principal research interests are global warming and thunderstorm electrification. His idea for global warming mitigation featured in a recent BBC2 documentary film, 'Five Ways to Save the World'. Latham has published five collections of poetry (four with Peterloo Poets & one with the Collective Press). He has also published a novel and had plays, poems and stories on BBC radio. He has won first prize in about 20 UK poetry competitions.

He started writing poetry in mid-life, about 25 years ago. For many years he shied away from incorporating science into his poetry, wanting to develop a new aspect of his life which was completely distinct from science. He eventually realised that such a distinction – between poetry & science – was tenuous, and that science is rich in metaphor for the human condition. Subsequently science has featured increasingly in his writing. He has tutored extensively for the Arvon Foundation and the Taliesin Trust, and although most courses have not explicitly involved science, three 'Writing & Science' courses have been run, co-tutored with Lavinia Greenlaw, Jo Shapcott and Janice Fuller.

David Grubb's poetry collections include The Memory of Rooms, Selected (Stride 2001), The Elephant In The Room (Driftwood 2004), Out Of The Marvellous (Oleander 2006). His new collection is due out from Salt in the autumn. He has three novels and an autobiography published and a new novel, The Colour Bird, seeking a publisher. David Grubb is a Tutor of Creative Writing at University of Reading and the River and Rowing Museum, Henley-on-Thames. He is the Editor of Sounding Heaven and Earth and also runs a mentoring scheme for individual writers.


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Notes to Editors

  • You can read the the winning poems on the Poetry Society's website at
  • The Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition 2007, with judges E A Markham, Michael Schmidt and Penelope Shuttle, will be launched in April 2007.
  • To find out more about the National Poetry Competition 2007 visit or send a stamped addressed envelope to Competition Organiser(PR) 22 Betterton Street London WC2H 9BX










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