Surprise winner in innovative MAG Poetry Competition

19.07.2010 Surprise winner in innovative MAG Poetry Competition

The events team at leading landmine charity Mines Advisory Group (MAG), which the competition raises funds for, didn’t quite know what to say.

Organiser of the MAG Poetry Competition, Peter Hartey, was plainly surprised at the result.

But the result was clear – Essex-based poet Francesca McMahon had, for the second year running, won the MAG Poetry Prize.

“The MAG Poetry Competition is an anonymous peer review system. By the end of the competition the shortlisted poems have been read over 200 times. That Francesca has won for a second time is remarkable,” said Peter.

“I would love to know if anyone judging recognised Honey Traps, Francesca’s winning poem this year, as being by the same author as Thirteenth Birthday, the winning entry from last year,” Peter added.

The increased number of entries this year (591 up from 310), coupled with the anonymity of the judging process, makes the winning result even more significant.

It also means that the amount of money raised to support MAG’s lifesaving work clearing deadly remnants of conflict for the benefit of communities worldwide has risen to £591 – one pound for every entry.

This year the worldwide reach of the democratic competition also grew with poems being entered from 27 different countries including Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Croatia, Hong Kong, India, Singapore, Uganda and the USA.

Commenting on her second win Francesca McMahon said: “I only entered the competition again this year because I enjoyed the judging process so much last year. I think the opportunity to judge other poems is invaluable in helping writers to see what works.

Honey Traps is really about time,” Francesca explained. 

“I wrote it because I see people rushing through life, eager to get to the future, without considering that the years they are rushing through might turn out to be the best ones,” she said.

Cheryl Carman, whose poem was one of the final 12 chosen by entrants, said that the competition had been a “really enjoyable experience.” 

“The democratic nature of the competition is brilliant in itself and so refreshing,” she added.