Judy O’Kane wins National Memory Day poetry competition

Judy O'Kane
Judy O’Kane

‘The Fig Tree’ by Poetry Society Member Judy O’Kane, from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, has been chosen by Sir Andrew Motion as Best Poem in a national writing competition devoted to the theme of Memory as part of National Memory Day.

Poetry Society Members Janet Lees and Sharon Black were Highly Commended.

Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureate and Founder of The Poetry Archive and judge of the Best Poem Category, commented:

‘I chose ‘The Fig Tree’ as the winning poem amongst a very good shortlist because it combines vigilant looking with generous feeling, and allows each to benefit the other.’

Judy said, “This prize is incredibly meaningful to me. ‘The Fig Tree’ is my response to ideas of exile and belonging as well as the importance of family. I am thrilled to be associated with the hugely important work done by National Memory Day, and its increasing urgency.”

Judy is an Irish writer living in London Bridge. She trained at Ballymaloe Cookery Course in Cork on sabbatical form legal partnership, and worked the 2009 harvest in Bordeaux. Her work is an exploration of terroir, wine’s sense of place, and is alive to questions of where we are from, where we make our home, where we can survive.

Judy’s poetry is published in The World of Fine Wine (UK), Landfall (New Zealand) and is on display as part of Poems on the Move at Guernsey Literary Festival 2017. She won the Listowel Writers’ Week Original Poem Prize in 2015 and the Irish Post Listowel Writers’ Week Prize 2017. 

Judy holds an LL.B from Trinity College Dublin, and an MA in Life Writing from UEA, where she is completing a PhD. She teaches advocacy at the Law Society of Ireland. 

National Memory Day is part of Dementia Awareness Week and a celebration of the power of poetry for those with and affected by dementia. It is the creation of a partnership of Literature Works, the University of Plymouth, Alzheimer’s Society and The Poetry Archive.

All funds raised by the Creative Writing Competition will go towards supporting the National Memory Day project, including placing Poets-in-Residence in Memory Cafes around the UK to work with people living with memory loss. This project is delivered in partnership with Literature Works, the Alzheimer’s Society, Plymouth University and the Poetry Archive. The Competition received over 1,300 entries from across the UK, Ireland, Europe, USA, China, Japan and Australia. This year’s competition invited entries from people of any age, writing in English to share poems and short stories that evoked the theme of MEMORIES.

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1 September 2017