Once again we ran a competition for previously unpublished poets. This year we decided to ask poets to write around a theme. In English the theme was Poetry against Poverty. In Afrikaans die tema was Poesie as Hartskos.The adult response was excellent, but the number of responses in the school category was disappointing. I certainly hope that next year more teachers embrace this competition as a worthwhile exercise for their students.

Having said that, the calibre of writing this year was, we believe, exceptional. Veral die Afrikaanse gedigte was veel beter as vorige jare. The judging was once again conducted in stages, with a group in McGregor doing the initial sifting. As always it is a most enjoyable time for us as we read through the entries, pausing to read one aloud and share the wonderful words. We sent an extended short list in both categories to established poets for their recommendations, and out of that a winner emerges.

The winner in the school category was easy. Thato Tshukudu was brilliant, and two of his poems made the final shortlist of four. Ultimately De Wet Street was chosen. What was particularly exhilarating for us is that Thato journeyed all the way to McGregor from Klerksdorp to be with us. He missed the Prize Giving, but was able to meet with organisers shortly afterwards. An outstanding young man, Thato is a credit to his parents and we look forward to hearing more from this talented young man. We decided this year to also award a Runner’s Up prize, and this went to local boy Edward Jeneke from Robertson, who submitted Poesie, Jou Manna. Well done Edward!

The Adult category was more problematic because of the high calibre of writing, so in the end we decided to award two First Places. These went to Elske Maxwell, for her beautiful Victoria -Wes , and Janine Milne for her powerful poem, Here the grass itself staggers . Both were outstanding pieces of work and we were delighted that both winners could be at the Prize Giving ceremony. It was a pleasure to meet you both, and we hope that you continue to write.

Special thanks to Leila Witkin for her continued support of this very important programme. Big thanks to Julian May and The Mellon Foundation for also contributing to this year’s programme.

Most importantly, congratulations to everyone who entered- You are all winners! Keep writing!

David Magner


Have a look at winning and finalists poems at this link