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Betjeman Poetry Prize finalists camp

Writing Under Canvas – Betjeman Poetry Camp at Waddesdon Manor 2017

The first ever BETJEMAN POETRY CAMP (for the 2016 Betjemen Poetry Prize finalists) was held by kind permission of the Rothschild Foundation at Windmill Hill, Waddesdon Manor on June 2nd-4th 2017. The young writers – Archita Sinha, Jacob Heaton, Sofia Denno, Annie Davison and Elsie Hammick – who arrived from Kent, Oxford, Manchester and London spent the weekend writing, editing and reading each other’s work, supported by poet Paul Lyalls. They visited the Colourscape Festival and the Manor, explored the woods and slept under canvas. The Camp is part of a wider Rothschild Foundation grant which supports the Betjemen Poetry Prize to engage young people, particularly those from diverse backgrounds, and provide a platform for their work.

Teenage girls standing on stine steps outside Waddesdon Manor, a large country house.

Describing the event, Paul said: ” As a long standing poet I have seen many opportunities arise for young poets who are trying to get their work out into the world and develop their voices, but I do have to say that the Betjeman Poetry Prize Camp at the inspirational Waddeston Manor took it to a another level.  It was inspiring across the board. The young poets worked solidly over two days to produce work as stunning as their environment.  I too – as a working poet, wandering my way to work beneath swooping Red Kites,  dreamy Waddeston turrets and rolling Buckinghamshire beyond – felt a sense of a reward for my long hours of developing my craft.  Long may it reign and may it never rain on such a celebration.”

The following is an example of the exceptional poems inspired by Waddesdon Manor written by the young poets who attended the camp:

Waddesdon, by Annie Davison

Every story hides under an object

Each object tells a story

Surfaces of perfected pain, pointing at

Old memories

Hearing a synchronised murmur of

Stairs, running infinitely around the building

Maybe, I see the glint of a china plate

Positions always fixed

Hypnotised by designs,

Like a bird

Trapped in patterns