The 2022 Winchester Poetry Prize has been won by Luke Palmer of Corsham in Wiltshire for his poem Desire | Fathers. Luke becomes the seventh winner of the prize which is organised by Winchester Poetry Festival and sponsored by Paris Smith LLP. The competition once again attracted over two thousand entries from around the world. Luke was previously placed 3rd in the 2020 competition.
The prize-giving ceremony on 8 October was arranged by Winchester Poetry Festival as a hybrid event with a number of poets attending Winchester in-person, while others read their poems via Zoom. Indeed, the rail strike on the day meant that only three poets were able to make it to the live part of the prizegiving while 18 poets attended online. The event was also live-streamed so that audiences around the world were able to watch.
The prize for the best poem by a Hampshire-based poet, sponsored by Warren & Son, was won by Jeremy Wikeley for his poem The Sign Says Hungerford.
The competition’s judge, poet Jo Bell, commended all the poets who had entered the competition for their courage in doing so. ‘Entering a poetry competition is an act of exposure, of vulnerability, to offer up your poems to be judged.’
Luke Palmer, winner of the competition, said: I'm honoured to win the 2022 Winchester Poetry Prize, and more than a little shocked. The quality of the longlist was very high, and I spent the ceremony certain that I'd been overlooked and just happy to hear so many brilliant poems and be counted among them. I wrote Desire | Fathers just after the birth of our second daughter, and it's fitting that this award should come just before the arrival of our third. It was a difficult poem to write, and is a difficult poem to read and to hear. My biggest thanks go to Jo Bell for seeing in the poem what I think I was aiming for and for giving it this accolade.
Festival Chair, Jane Bryant, said: ‘The standard of entries this year has been exceptional and the ongoing popularity of the annual prize is immensely encouraging. Each year we have been able to attract a highly regarded judge for the competition, and the generous support of our sponsors enables us to give appropriate recognition to some outstanding poets.’
Huw Miles of Paris Smith said ‘We are delighted to once again sponsor Winchester Poetry Prize, a true highlight of Winchester’s arts calendar. We hope our ongoing support encourages others to express themselves and to share their work with the widest of audiences. Long may it continue.’
All the winning and commended poems are published in an anthology entitled at night we cross the street, available from Winchester Poetry Festival as well as P&G Wells Bookshop.