Press release: 10 March 2005

'Homeland' wins the National Poetry Competition 2004 for Jon Sait

Cardiff-based poet Jon Sait has romped home in the Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition 2004, beating off a record number of entries (just under 10,000) with his poem 'Homeland'. On hearing that he had won the NPC, Sait mused on the curious images conjured up by placing a poem in the competition. "I can't help but see a host of nervous poems decked out in racing colours jostling at the start line".

Once off the 'start line' it took the judges very little time to declare 'Homeland' the winner. As one of the judges, Simon Smith, commented "What I liked about the winning poem was its ambiguity, its seeming simplicity. It appears drab and roughly textured, but repeated re-readings reveal a complexity that reminded me of Thomas Wyatt: saying subtle and complex things simply. Visually, it conjures a scene using a tone and palette in common with Frank Auerbach, and other artists of the Camden School."

Sait describes his poem as a political one which examines the way individual life is affected by something bigger. He gave the poem a demotic voice that mixes some of the voices that he hears around him in Cardiff, such as Somali and Punjabi, to create a sense of alienation.

Jon Sait was born in Cardiff in 1954. After training as a teacher and social worker he worked for twenty years in drug and alcohol projects and child care. He left social work in 1996 and retrained as a stone sculptor, living for seven years without mains electricity or running water on an isolated farm in Wiltshire. He now lives in Cardiff.

He began writing poetry when the poet DHW Grubb commenced teaching at his school in Bath. He has travelled extensively and has lived and worked in Spain, Seychelles and Germany. He published regularly in poetry magazines during the 1970s and 80s but has since submitted work rarely. His screenplay 'Wildwood' was produced by Feline Films for HTV. He is currently working on two screenplays and compiling a first poetry collection.

Sait continues the racing theme by comparing his 'happy shock' at winning the competition to that of the man in the Pogues Song the 'Bottle of Smoke' who bets on a horse at 25-1 and wins.

Second prize went to Matthew Caley with his poem 'L.Z.'. Caley has previously won third prize in The National Poetry Competition (2002). Caley's Thirst (Slow Dancer, 1999) was nominated for The Forward Prize For Best First Collection. Forthcoming in 2005 are his second full-length collection The Scene Of My Former Triumph from Wrecking Ball and Pop Fiction: The Song In Cinema co-edited with Steve Lannin, from Intellect .

Mario Petrucci received third prize with his poem 'Gene'. He devised Search and Create, the Imperial War Museum's only poetry residency, and continues to implement site-specific work for institutions as varied as Southwell Workhouse and Imperial War Museum North. His prizes include the 2002 Daily Telegraph/Arvon International Poetry Prize with an extended excerpt from Heavy Water (Enitharmon), the Bridport Prize, the Irish Times Perpetual Trophy and the Silver Wyvern Award. He was a PBS Recommendation with Shrapnel and Sheets (Headland) and is three times outright winner of the London Writers Competition. He teaches with Arvon, is the Poetry Book Society's inaugural pamphlet selector and co-founded both writers inc. and the experimental voice group ShadoWork.

- Ends -

 

Notes to Editors

The Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition 2005 with judges Alison Brackenbury, Bernardine Evaristo and Mark Ford will be launched in April 2005.

To find out more about the National Poetry Competition 2005 visit www.poetrysociety.org.uk/comp/comp.htm or send a stamped addressed envelope to Competition Organiser (PR) 22 Betterton Street London WC2H 9BX

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