Thursday, September 29, 2022

Bethan’s poems take her from Grays to the dreaming spires of Oxford

A BUDDING poet from the Southend Campus of South Essex College has triumphed to win £1000 in a prestigious national poetry competition.

A-level student Bethan Smith, 18, from Grays beat out competition from over 600 entries to come second in the Christopher Tower Poetry Competition run by Oxford University. With an aim of promoting the reading and writing of poetry in young people, the annual competition is open to entrants between 16 – 18 years old and offers a first prize of £3000.

Bethan attended the prize giving ceremony at Christ Church, Oxford, earlier this week where her award for her poem ‘Balloon-song’ was presented by poet and Oxford University lecturer Peter McDonald.

Of her achievement, Bethan said: “When I heard my name called out it was an amazing feeling. I was really surprised to even be shortlisted to the final six so coming second was a real shock. To be in the same room as accomplished poets and writers was an incredible experience and one I will never forget.”

Bethan is no stranger to winning accolades for her writing; last year she entered the Young Writers Poetry competition and her poem was selected to be included in the book Express Yourself – Essex, which was published earlier this month. A keen writer, Bethan has attended extra-curriculum club Wordcraft at the College for almost two years. Wordcraft members meet once a week to read and critique each others prose, poetry or drama.

Bethan continued: “If I didn’t attend Wordcraft I wouldn’t have been confident enough to enter competitions. The group has really helped me to develop my writing skills and my tutor, Helen, has been really supportive in encouraging me to share my work.”

A-level Curriculum Leader, Helen German said: “This is an amazing achievement for Bethan and affirms her incredible talent as a poet. Her poetry deserves to be recognised and read on a national scale and now due to her success in this competition it will be.”

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