Ledbury Competition Winner/Sissay Awarded Freedom Of London/Russian Protestors Risk Arrests At Poet Sites – Poetry News Roundup January 30th

Today on My Poetic Side, we look at the winner of the Ledbury Poetry Competition, another honour given to the poet Lemn Sissay and the poet statues being used as memorials in Russia.

Ledbury Poetry Competition Winner 2022

The winner of the £1,000 Ledbury Poetry Competition for 2022 is Naoise Gale, and the winning poem in s “How (Not) to Say Impossible Things”. 

The judge for the competition this year was Joelle Taylor, a TS Eliot prize winner. The competition carries a £1,000 prize as well as a week at a poetry course run by the Arvon Foundation. There are also prizes for second and third place of £500 and £250. 

The winning poem was described as a “breathless piece of writing” and the judges were impressed with the way that is looks at language and pushes meanings. 

Gale is from West Yorkshire. Her writing is inspired by the topics of psychosis, addiction, mental illness and neurodivergence. She has been longlisted for the 2023 Disables Poets Prize, the Fish Poetry Prize 2022 and also shortlisted for the Creative Futures’ Writers Award 2021. Implode Explode, her first collection of poetry, was published in October 2022 and was inspired by the topics of eating disorders, grief and growing up autistic. 

In addition to the three winners of the prize, there were also a further ten poets whose submissions to the competition were highly commended. 

Speaking for Arvon, their artistic director praised the impressive record of the Ledbury prize and said that they were delighted to be working with Ledbury prize to nurture up-and-coming talent. 

The Ledbury Poetry Festival will run from 30th June to 9th July, and the winning poems will also be available to read online. 

Lemn Sissay Awarded Freedom of the City of London

It has been a good couple of weeks for the poet and broadcaster Lemn Sissay; following his honorary doctorate from the University of Leicester, he has now been awarded the Freedom of the City of London. 

In a ceremony that took place on Friday the poet, who also received an OBE in 2021, was given the prestigious award. This is one of the oldest traditions in the City of London and is thought to date back to 1237.

Speaking about the Award, Sissay said that it was like something out of a fairy tale, and he was honoured to have been recognised by the city that he loves and calls his home. 

Sissay is also a winner of the PEN Pinter Prize in 2019 and is currently a chancellor of the University of Manchester. 

Russians Risk Arrest Honouring Ukraine

Whilst the Kremlin has stamped all attempts at public dissent against the war in Ukraine, there are some Russians who are defying the orders and creating makeshift memorials across the country. 

Statues of famous Ukrainian writers and poets, like the statue in honour of the largely unknown poet Lesya Ukrainka in Moscow, have become the place where people make their small protests. Whilst statues of famous Russian writers and poets like Pushkin have been removed across Ukraine, this has not been the case in Russia, and this statue is located in a tucked away corner. 

The statue of Taras Shevchenko in St Petersburg, and a bust of the same writer in Krasnodar, are regular memorials to the fallen in Ukraine and are routinely cleared by the municipal services team, but this doesn’t deter people. 


  • Ok Waleed

    I need to get as popular as these poets!

  • Desdichado

    Not much to honor with our client-state Ukraine... but they burn through the billions in arms pretty quick.

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