Press Release: 10 Feb 2006 

'A Wildly Exuberant Moment' for Melanie Drane, winner of the National Poetry Competition 2005.

After many years of writing in secret, Melanie Drane's poetry is now the cause for public celebration as her poem, 'The Year the Rice-Crop Failed', took first place in The Poetry Society's National Poetry Competition 2005. Coming from Durham, North Carolina, she is the first international writer to win the competition. For many years poetry remained a largely covert activity for Drane, writing only for "the desk drawer", until nine years ago when she won a commendation in the National Poetry Competition, the first poetry contest she had ever entered. She then began sending poems out for publications and competitions, achieving great success. She now joins a long list of outstanding poets who have won this prize including Jo Shapcott, Ian Duhig, Colette Bryce and Carol Ann Duffy.

Drane's poem was selected from almost 7,000 poems by judges Alison Brackenbury, Bernardine Evaristo and Mark Ford. "The dramatic setting of an earthquake in Japan and its extraordinary consequences becomes the context for a subtle meditation on the shaky terrain of a new marriage", explains Bernardine Evaristo, who continues, "The very visual poem stands out for its stunning use of language, evocative sensory detail and original imagery".

Melanie Drane is a recent graduate of the University of Southern Maine Stonecoast MFA. programme. She is also an alumna of Princeton, UC Berkeley and the London School of Economics. She recently served as writer-in-residence at the Interlochen Arts Academy. Her poems have appeared in magazines including Witness, Nimrod and Atlanta Review. Drane strongly believes "poetry demands the tender scrutiny of detail, and I believe that attentiveness renders compassion possible. In this era of attention deficit, poetry has become more urgent, not less." 'The Year the Rice-Crop Failed' is exquisite in its detail."

The Poetry Society was delighted to be able to present Melanie's award of £5,000 at the prize-giving event which was held at London's Living Room in the Greater London Authority's City Hall on Friday 10 March 2006.

Second prize of £1,000 went to Dominic McLoughlin with his poem 'I Do Wish Someone Would Ask Me to the Races with Him/Her'. He teaches in the faculties of continuing education at Birkbeck, University of London and the University of Sussex and works in Student Services at University of East London. His work was recently short-listed in the Poetry Business Pamphlet Competition 2005 and has appeared in various magazines including The Shop, The Rialto and The Oxford Magazine. Some of his poems have appeared in Entering the Tapestry, the Poetry School anthology (Enitharmon, 2003).

Kevin Saving received third prize of £500 with his poem 'Dog Otter'. He has worked in the care industry and remains a registered but non practising psychiatric nurse. He self published his first pamphlet A Brand of Day in 1994 and plans a second, Rough Bearings, later this year.

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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 2006, with judges John Burnside, Lee Harwood and Alice Oswald, will be launched in April 2006.
  • To find out more about the National Poetry Competition 2006 visit or send a stamped addressed envelope to Competition Organiser(PR) 22 Betterton Street London WC2H 9BX

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