Poetry competition - Winner announced!

We are delighted to announce that Ron of Brueton Place in Solihull is the winner of our poetry competition. Here are a few words from Michael Bird, writer and art historian, on the value of poetry during this challenging time and why he chose Ron’s poem as the winner.

A big thank you to all our homeowners (and staff!) who sent in your poems. Poetry must be about the best possible antidote to isolation – a poem is a kind of conversation with yourself that speaks to other people, whether you’re in the room with them or not.

These days my own writing is mostly about art and artists. But poetry is where I started as a published writer in my early twenties, and for me it’s still the heart of writing. ‘Style is a very simple matter,’ said the novelist Virginia Woolf: ‘it is all rhythm.’ And I’d agree. I find that almost every piece of writing, from a long book to a short review, starts with a rhythm – what Woolf called ‘a wave in the mind’ – not with a detailed idea of what I want to say.

Writing on the theme of ‘the pandemic’ was quite a challenge – it has changed all our lives so suddenly and made the future feel like having to learn to walk again. I suppose I was expecting this theme to result in predominantly dark, melancholy poems. I was wrong. Your poems covered the whole spectrum of feelings about our strange new world of social isolation, but there was lots of humour and optimism, and a real sense of putting this crisis into perspective.

Poetry isn’t a race. A good poem is different from other poems, not better. It has a life of its own. But I was asked to pick a winner, and I’ve gone for Ron's ‘The Girls of First Floor Brueton Place’. It’s a lively, affectionate and funny take on friendship and social distancing. The brisk rhymes are deceptively simple – look again, and you’ll realise how neatly Ron balances light and shade (‘gloom’ and ‘bloom’) in his tribute to ‘the girls’. And – as you might have guessed – I love the swing to that rhythm!

Congratulations to Ron, who wins a £100 Waterstones voucher.

Read the winning poem here: 'The Girls of First Floor Brueton Place' by Ron

Michael Bird

Michael Bird is a writer and art historian. His books include 100 Ideas that Changed Art, Studio Voices: Art and Life in 20th-century Britain, The St Ives Artists: A Biography of Place and Time and a bestselling history of art for children, Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories. Michael is Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Exeter. He lives in Cornwall with his wife, the artist Felicity Mara.

For a limited time, you can enjoy a 35% discount on Michael Bird’s 100 Ideas that Changed Art and Vincent’s Starry Night and Other Stories via his publisher, Laurence King. Simply click on the links above and use the discount code ‘MCCARTHYANDSTONE’ at the checkout.

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