Caterpillar Prize Winner/Chinese Poet Arrested – Poetry News Roundup June 4th

Today on My Poetic Side we look at the winner of this year”s Caterpillar Prize and the Chinese poet who has been arrested.

Caterpillar Poetry Prize Winner

The Caterpillar Poetry Prize has just named this year”s winner. Fergal McNally is the first Irish poet to win the prize.

The winning poem is called “The Zebra with the Leopardskin Pants” and was described by the competition judge as being a poem for those children who “sometimes feel out-of-step with the world”.

This year, the judge of the competition was Roger McGough. When asked about the winning poem he said that the moment he began reading it he knew that he would be in good hands. The poem takes the reader on a journey with a zebra who feels like he is the outsider in his community. However, there is a happy conclusion by the end of it. McGough felt that the poem would resonate with young readers who sometimes feel at odds with the world.

McGough confesses that he was a very sympathetic judge. He had previously entered the competition a few years ago but not got anywhere!

The competition which carries a prize of £1000 is judged blind and the prize is awarded for the best, unpublished poem that has been written for children by an adult. The competition is funded by The Caterpillar, which is an Ireland based art and literature magazine.

McGough noted that perhaps rather unsurprisingly this year there were a number of entries that featured loss of freedom and home-schooling but with a touch of humour and optimism for the future, a clear sign of the times that we currently find ourselves living in.

Fergal McNally has an MA in creative writing which he gained in 2006 from NUI Galway. He has spent much of his life travelling around, spending time in Poland, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Taiwan. He has worked as a TEFL teacher and spent his spare time writing. He said that he has no idea where his inspiration comes from but believes if you read enough books there will soon be a book of your own fighting to get out of you.

Chinese Poet Arrested for “Inciting Subversion”

June 4th marks a sensitive day in the Chinese calendar, the date when people remember the Tiananmen Square protests. It has been a day which recently has become a time when people hold vigils and gather to commemorate those people who were killed or wounded.

This year, emotions ran higher as the government banned the gatherings in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

On 30th May, it was reported that the Chinese poet Wang Zang was arrested and his home searched by the police. Prior to his arrest, the poet and his family had been under a very strict 24-hour house arrest. The house is currently being “guarded” and all of the families paperwork including credit cards have been taken away the report says.

It is believed that the family had been under surveillance for some time with the idea that they might be political activists concerning the government.

Wang Zang, whose real name is actually Wang Yuwen, is considered to be the youngest critic poet in China and the author of a number of poetry collections. He has previously been arrested for his support of the Umbrella Movement of Hong Kong.

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